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Old 04-10-2011, 11:34   #1
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Phone Call to My Dad . . .

OT - Phone call to my Dad...

My father, who used to be, first, a Grumman Avenger Navy pilot during WWII,
and, 50 years later, a private pilot, is in the landing pattern, wheels down
and locked, landing lights on, and the runway lights have come on for his
final transfer.

It was thus that I used all the flight analogies in my presumed final phone
call to him over Skype, the medium which my sister was using to allow family
members to see him during calls. As it turned out, my sister was there, and
had the video on so we could see him. Unfortunately, I got her skype call
just as I was beginning the working day, so wasn't prepared, and had an
interrupted (help coming in) and somewhat disjointed call. I remedied that
by calling back later after properly preparing my call.

He'd long ago instructed us that in these foreseen end days (he's dying,
essentially, from the effects of dementia, where the brain gradually forgets
how to do anything, starting with the usual "can't remember" stuff which
happens to us all as we age, down to remembering how to eat, and,
eventually, to even breathe), to speak to him as though he was fully
"there". Evidently, he was right, as he moved his shoulder as I spoke, in
both cases, whereas he's otherwise "resting comfortably" - which is to say,
virtually inert.

Here's what I said in my "prepared" call:


Hi, Dad,

This is your son, Skip.

I see you're in the waiting room for your final flight. The angels are
assembling to carry you to heaven so you can be with Mom. Your brother Bob
and your sister Betty have set up the arrival lounge to accommodate all the
others who are eagerly awaiting your arrival.

I know it will be a great trip. What a great ride that will be, with angels
all around you, giving you the greatest view of the trip.

I expect that Mom will be playing her pedal organ with welcoming music,
accompanying the choir assembled for you. I wish that I could be there to
lend my voice, but I'll be there with you soon enough, and we'll harmonize!

All my life, you and Mom made it very clear that heaven was "THE" place to
be, and there's not a doubt in this world that you've earned the right to be
there. I expect that the fitting room already has your wings ready, for
you're surely among the angels in my life.

Just one example has been the lifestyle we're in now. Not only did you fully
accept and love Lydia, my cousin who's now my wife, your annual Christmas
gifts, over time, entirely paid for our new home, the Morgan sailboat Flying
Pig, along with all the improvements we've made to it over the years. Every
time we raise our sails, we think of you, as it was your annual gifts which
allowed us to get new sails.

On your trip, Dad, if you see this strange looking animal off to the side,
it will be Flying Pig riding along as your wingman. However, with all the
angels doing the transport, he'll be just along for the ride, saluting his
benefactor.

For that matter, I have no doubt that there will be a virtual armada of
others flying along in formation, as you've benefited thousands in your time
on earth. As you look around, you'll be surrounded by all those support
craft. You won't really need any support, but they'll be your honor guard on
the way to your new home.

Thanks again for all you've done for me in my 66 years. Flight Services is
reporting CAVU and brilliant sun, with no wind. All that sun heating the
ground makes for great thermals, which will make for a swift ascent. Have a
great trip! I'll talk to you again soon.

Bye!



He's been in Hospice for a week or so, which is a very good thing. He's
been preparing for his "soft landing" - the analogy he's used in the past as
this time approached - for years, even before dementia set in, and
everything was already in place for him to go.

All along, I've wondered what my response to this moment (note that he's
still "alive" as I write) would be. In the last few years, as dementia
progressed, I'd expected that I'd be happy and unemotional (other than
grateful for his relief). However...

While the "weather" here could be described as "cloudy, with a chance of
showers," indications are that a front is moving in and it might get worse
:{))

L8R, y'all...

Skip
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Old 04-10-2011, 11:43   #2
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Re: OT - Phone call to my Dad...

The people who make us what we are never really leave us...

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 04-10-2011, 11:47   #3
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Re: OT - Phone call to my Dad...

Lovely call Skip - sorry to hear about your dad, though. None of us is ever really prepared I guess for these times but meeting them with open eyes and a full heart somehow always improves them.

Wishing clear skies for your dad and happier times for you
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Old 04-10-2011, 12:17   #4
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Re: OT - Phone call to my Dad...

A beautiful farewell and tribute! The blessing - Love never Ends!!

Clear skies and smooth sailing to you both!!!!
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Old 04-10-2011, 13:07   #5
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Re: OT - Phone call to my Dad...

My dad is 81 and in a latter stage of alzheimers/dementia. He and my mom have been living on our family farm west Texas. The last couple years, the situation bacame too much for her. As a family we (mom, dad, my brother and myself) agreed to sell the farm and get them a house closer to us. We live in Dallas...actually Rockwall. We closed the farm sale last Tuesday and then closed the new house deal on Wednesday. We have been unpacking boxes since Thursday. It's been great to have them close. In fact my dad and I watched MN Football last night together, after having a big thick steak and a couple beers. He is still physically in pretty good shape. Always been a sharp dresser and very neat and tidy. My mom does have to help him with his bathing activities. He forgets which product goes on which part of the body...toothpaste, shampoo, deoderant etc. He's happy everyday and still does his best to crack jokes and flirt with every ladie he meets. He had both knees replaced several years ago, so now they are a little stiff. He has a tough time with conversations. He can't maintain a dialog..trouble getting the words out. But for the first few minutes with a stranger he can sling enough BS using one liners to hide it. It's sad to see your hero fade. It's like a light bulb hooked to a slowly dying battery. Ho long will it last? We will see...that's for sure.
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Old 04-10-2011, 15:02   #6
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Re: OT - Phone call to my Dad...

We are going through the same thing with my mother.
She is in hospice, just had her 96th birthday, barely remembers me but swears she can still do a cartwheel and ride a horse.

Yes, mom...
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Old 04-10-2011, 15:19   #7
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Re: OT - Phone call to my Dad...

This forum is so much more than just a sailing/cruising forum. Thank you so much for sharing these other aspects of life and what it means to live and die.
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Old 05-10-2011, 05:07   #8
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Re: Phone Call to My Dad . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipgundlach View Post
However...

While the "weather" here could be described as "cloudy, with a chance of
showers," indications are that a front is moving in and it might get worse
:{))

L8R, y'all...

Skip
Skip, This is the Tower, if the front is stronger than forecast, you are cleared for a go around, establish in the holding pattern and transfer command to your Co-Pilot until the Wx clears.
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