Monday, December 29, 2008
My father passed away on Tuesday night, December 23rd. He had battled cancer for over four years, but the end was mercifully quick. Just under a month ago, he was told the cancer had spread to his lungs and we arranged for hospice care. He figured he had until the spring. But my mom and I felt it would be quicker, and it was. My mom took the picture below on December 13th. By the 19th, he was clearly in his final days. I always thought we'd have some final words together, but the last 48 hours of his life were very quiet, as he danced on the edge of consciousness.
On Tuesday, three friends of the family came over to eat dinner with me and my mom, as they had been doing for several days. As we sat at the table, eating and talking and laughing, I suddenly really needed to go upstairs and see my dad. Within the hour, he passed away, with all of us gathered around his hospital bed, holding his hands and whispering "I love you." It was a remarkably peaceful thing, the slipping of life, the turn between breath and stillness.
In a wonderful coup, two friends had arranged for my father to receive a special one-off printing of his memoir, which is still months away from publication. We got the books two weeks ago and showed him a copy on what turned out to be one of his last days of consciousness. When he realized it was an actual copy of his book, not just a mock-up, he said "I'll be goddamned."
His memoir, titled "Guts: One American Guy's Lucky, Reckless Life" will be published by Random House in May 2009. It's already available for pre-order here. (In one of the strangest assignments of my copywriting career, I got paid to write the jacket copy for my dad's memoir!) And you can read his obituary in the Boston Globe here.
My dad was a pretty extraordinary guy, quite smart and totally goofy; and though, like many dads, he could be annoying, opinionated, bossy, and stubborn, he was my dad--and I'm really going to miss him.