I have found myself depressed this week, and not in a very good mood.
It may be the weather … days of high heat and humidity followed by days of gloom and rain.
It may be because I am struggling with my writing, unsure still if it is what I am supposed to be doing.
It may be because these last few days mark anniversaries of keen losses for different parts of my family.
It is quite probable that the weather and my writing struggles are just added irritation to the knowledge of how my family is hurting this week.
The loss closest to my heart is the loss of my dad, Ellis Henderson, who died 20 years ago, July 30th 1991, when cancer finally became too much for him to fight.
My last memory of my dad was the night before he died.
I went over, after talking to my mother, because she could tell that time was short. He lay in a hospital bed in my parent’s bedroom. He had been mostly unresponsive for days and had slipped into a coma.
When I walked into the house, the smooth sound of Jim Reeves filled the rooms. He was one of my dad’s favorites. Jim Reeves, Nat King Cole, Kate Smith.
My oldest brother had suggested to Mom that she play those records that my dad always listened to, believing it was possible he would be able to hear them.
As I stood beside his bed, holding his hand, I tried my best to talk to him as if there was nothing wrong. I told him about my day at work and what my husband and son were doing.
But as I stood there, looking down at his thin face, despair swept through me, and I began to cry. I remember thinking, praying, that I would gladly take his illness on myself if he would just get better.
I fought the tears. I did not want him to know how much my heart was aching if there was a possibility that he was aware of what was going on around him. They flowed down my face despite my best efforts to stop them.
I felt his hand move under mine, and watched his eyelids flicker. There was a subtle change in his facial muscles, as if he were distressed at my distress.
My mother came in and put her hand on my shoulder and steered the conversation, and my thoughts, to my day and what was going on in my own household. When I had regained my control, I noticed that Jim Reeves had stopped playing.
I asked Dad if he wanted to listen to Kate Smith, not sure if he was at all aware of anything.
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, his fingers moved under mine and his mouth moved slightly, as if he were trying to answer me.
I went into the living room and changed the record before going back in to stand by the bed. It seemed as though his facial muscles had relaxed a little.
I don’t remember much of the visit after that, but I am so glad I went that night. My mom called me at work the next morning to tell me he had just died.
And now, each time I hear Kate Smith, whether it is “God Bless America” or “I Asked the Lord”, I think of that last night with my dad and will always be thankful for those last few minutes I got to spend with him.
© Drusilla Mott and https://drusillamott.wordpress.com, 2011