Donald Leroy Seng: My Father
I stayed with my father until the early morning hours last night because “He didn’t feel right.” He kept asking about my mother, where she was and when she died. I made him his favorite “peanut butter and jelly sandwich”, wrapped it and left it on his bedside with a banana, a snack bar and bottle of water. I connected his oxygen and stayed with him until he seemed comfortable laying in his bed, going to sleep.
I went to work this morning, January 2, 2019 knowing my brother Jeff would soon check in with my father, sharing a breakfast, a book or “getting something done”. My brothers have busy lives… yet have been amazing, visiting my father daily, helping around the house and working with him on his investments.
They took my father to Missoula, Wyoming, where he went hiking, visited family, even piloted (briefly) my cousin’s airplane. I posted their photos earlier on Facebook. I was to take the third week, but he was hospitalized twice and had to return home. He improved, so he went hunting in Southern Ohio at my brother’s cabin, and sitting on a chair, under a blanket, shot his last dear from the upper window of the barn.
I was seeing my third patient today when I received a call from my brother Jeff, “I can’t get Dad up, I need help.” He called an ambulance and had my father taken to the ER. My brother called a bit later and said, “It’s bad and we need to decide how aggressive treatment should be.” My father had fallen and suffered an intracranial bleed.
I went to the hospital where decisions were made…and we all placed hands on my father as they removed the breathing tube and he took his last few comfortable breaths.
We were all together three years earlier when my mother died. My brothers were instrumental in maintaining the quality of her life then as they were now with our father. No arguments…no issues…just an awareness of the importance of this moment and of all the moments we had spent with him.
It turns out…my father was an amazing man. He went through all of the uncertainties that a twenty-year-old man goes through when marrying a fifteen-year-old sweetheart. Everything was uncertain…except for his love for us. He was there for my mother, dedicated to her comfort during those very difficult last ten years.
And he was there for us...to the end. Although we helped him stay in his house…in truth, he was there for us, visiting our mother's grave daily and being fascinated by anything we did or brought to him. He helped us feel loved and he helped us know how much we love each other.
Life in a typical family is never “perfect”. Uncertainties abound. The value comes with knowing someone loves you, worts and all…no matter what. This is a strength I will appreciate for the rest of my life. You don’t need to be perfect. You can make mistakes…even big ones. But the strength of family is simply being there, present, in each other’s lives…and knowing that this love will always be there...
Thank you, Dad