“Don’t let it end like this.
Tell them I said something.”
On the last trip, I picked up a little book of Famous Last Words. I don’t really want to ask my mother what my father’s last words were. I suspect though, that they were the words he said as she helped him into the emergency room:
“I’m in bad shape.”
He died very shortly after he arrived. I’m sure he was stuffed full of tubes, and not in the position to provide an intelligent commentary. I’ve been thinking a lot about how little he really said to me over the course of my life. We didn’t really need to talk much. Especially in the last few years, I think it was just enough for me to be there. I felt pretty much the same. We already knew what we agreed about, disagreed about, etc.. There wasn’t really much need to talk about it. We were never a physically “touchy-feely” kind of family, though at least for the last year we always hugged when I left. There was enough assurance that we loved each other without much in the way of verbal or physical signage. He was in a good place, with most of the conflicts of his life resolved. I was in a good place too, moving forward to finally doing what I wanted to do in this life—with his help. And I know he felt good about being able to help me. Now it is my turn to help my mother. She is doing well through all this, but I know there may be more rocky moments ahead. They were inseparable. My parents were always a team.
One of the quotes in the deathbed book did make me smile. Franklin Roosevelt’s last words were:
“I have a terrific headache.”
Dad was very proud of having voted for Roosevelt once. I’m sure he’d be amused that their “last words” were so similar.