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[personal profile] farrandy
Last week, I got the phone call that you never want to get.

Dad had had a heart attack.

After some odd behavior from the dog, my Mom found him unresponsive and not breathing (not that she could detect, anyway). She called EMSA, and they rushed him to the hospital, where it was quickly decided that they were not equipped to handle the situation. They were going to life-flight him to Joplin (just an hour away by road), but they're still rebuilding after last year's tornado, so they instead sent him to Wichita (two hours away).

By the time they got him there, he was pretty much on complete life support. While he never regained consciousness, at first he seemed to respond to certain words said in his presence, but that tapered off. After four days, the doctor told us that if he did wake up, he most likely would be physically impaired and and the likelihood of brain damage was fairly certain. The decision to remove him from life support, while agonizing, was unanimous. If you were ever lucky enough to meet my Dad, you know that he would not want to continue on in that condition. So, on August 18, at 4:58 p.m., my Dad died. He always did know when quittin' time was.

Most of you reading this never met him, but if you know me, you should know that Dad was a major influence on the things you might know me for. Some of the earliest memories I have are of him playing the guitar and singing songs, and of course, later on, when my family started spending summers going to Bluegrass festivals, so I owe him for my love of music.

As for art, I believe that Dad gave me my first art lesson. I remember once, when I was very young I was drawing a picture and it looked a lot like the pictures that all kids of that age draw: the sky was a blue band with the sun a spikey yellow circle below it. He asked me why I drew the sky that way. I don't remember what answer I gave him, perhaps because that's the way everyone drew the sky. He told me to come outside with him. I did so and he pointed at the sky and said, "See? The sky all the way to the ground!" Suddenly I understood what a horizon was (though I didn't have a word for it, yet). The main idea (though I didn't realize it at the time) was, don't draw what others do; draw what you SEE. This, coming from a man who never made it past the eighth grade (not by his choice; I think he would have preferred school to working on the family farm, but my grandfather had other ideas). I tried to explain this wonderful concept to my fellow students when we would do art in school, but they never seemed to get it. They just couldn't SEE. (BTW, the blue crayons were the first ones that I used up in the box, because, let's face it, there's a lot of sky).

Later on, I discovered that like my Dad, I could see things in three dimensions and translate that to paper. It was useful to my Dad because he did a lot of construction. It was useful to me because , well, I did art. But I was amazed when I found out in high school that not everyone (in fact, a lot of people) can't. I couldn't explain to them how I did it, I just could. I never really inherited his ability to build things like he did, or do electrical work, But the things I did inherit have helped me so much. I don't think he ever understood my fascination with dragons and spaceships, but he never stopped encouraging me.

Dad was rarely ever sick with anything more than a cold or flu, and he was active right up until the day he died. The day before he had been out mowing lawns and making repairs at my sister's house, so that's why it has come as a shock to all of us. As far as we can tell, the last thing he knew he was sitting in a chair with a cup of coffee next to him and a dog in his lap. I can think of a lot of worse ways to go (especially considering he had been a fireman for 27 years).

If anyone is interested, I'll post the funny stories that I got up and told about him at his funeral (because Dad was a funny guy and would rather go out on ripples of laughter than a flood of tears).

Bye Dad! You're gonna leave a big hole in the world.

Date: 2012-08-25 09:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] idiosyncreant.livejournal.com
Oh no. So sorry to hear this.
I would love to hear your tribute stories about him!

Date: 2012-08-25 09:51 pm (UTC)
ext_173469: Quoted text: "If the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off." (nabers_monument)
From: [identity profile] piroshki.livejournal.com
Sympathies on your loss.

By all means, please do post your fond memories of him.

Date: 2012-08-25 11:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] naamah-darling.livejournal.com
I am so sorry. I've been thinking about you a lot this week, and your family.

I definitely want to read the stories. I'm really, really sorry I never got to meet him, because from the stories you've told, he sounds like a really cool guy, and I think he would have reminded me a lot -- in the very best way -- of my grandfather.

Date: 2012-08-25 11:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] apocalypticbob.livejournal.com
I am so sorry for your loss, and so grateful for the stories you've shared here today.

Much love.

Date: 2012-08-25 11:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] apocalypticbob.livejournal.com
Oh, and yes, please, share more!

Date: 2012-08-26 08:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] evil-overlord.livejournal.com
**hugs** So sorry to hear about your Dad! But yes, share your stories!!

Date: 2012-08-26 04:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] efamar.livejournal.com
Yes, I would love to hear the stories as well.

Date: 2012-08-30 03:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fmullen7.livejournal.com
Hugs. Losing one's father is one of the toughest things we have to face. Sure wish I could have met him - sounds a lot like my dad. Please continue the stories (I read these things backwards - most recent first.) - they're truly inspiring.
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