It was a warm, spring Sunday afternoon. He had gone out to mow the lawn and collapsed. He was 42 years old.
I had been in the basement, ironing and watching the movie The Burbs. I heard my mom call me up in an unfamiliar voice.
I ran outside to the side yard, and my Dad was on the ground, half down, half up. I remember seeing his mouth move and wave me away. I don't remember what he said.
I didn't know that I should have hugged him. Told him I loved him.
I didn't know that it would be my chance to say good-bye.
I ran to get some neighbors. The ambulance came. My mom went to the hospital. I don't remember who stayed with me and my brother and sister, although I had been babysitting them for several years by then.
Within 2 hours, my mom came home.
Dad was gone.
* * * * * * *
The hardest thing about having a parent die suddenly, traumatically, when you are young, is that you are never able to trust that people will be there every day.
You know that they can be there each day.
But you also intimately know that it is perfectly possible that tomorrow, they may not be here.
* * * * * * *
The day before my Dad died, I had an opportunity to golf with him.
That regret deepens with each passing year.
My greatest regret though, is that he died well before I had children. That my children do not have the benefit of knowing him and being loved by him. That he did not have the chance to know and love my children.
Lately I've been feeling a tremendous pull to slow down, be in the moment, and focus more on each day as it is happening.
Realizing how quickly 20 years can go by, I think slowing down is a good idea.