When I arrived at the hospital, Dad was on a breathing tube, unable to speak, but his eyes and hand squeeze told me that he was glad to see me. I spent the day by his bedside, and he was doing very well. So well, in fact, that the team decided to remove the tube (for the second time...the first, a few days prior, didn't go well). It didn't go well this time either, but in accordance with his wishes, it was decided not to intubate him a third time. (He was able, though, to hoarsely whisper to me, "Thanks for coming") Instead, he was made more comfortable with a morphine drip, and he went to sleep rather than panicking for each breath. He was moved to a private room, and I stayed with him for the next 2 days and nights. He was asleep the whole time. A couple of his buddies came by to see him and wish him well, and finally he passed away peacefully in his sleep, a bit over a week from admission to the hospital. Little suffering, no dementia, and dignity intact. The way we all hope to go. At 87 he led a good, full life.
A friend asked me to describe Dad's influence on me. I didn't need to look far. Obviously architecture...when he was starting out, on an architects typical peanut salary, he used to moonlight small projects at home. I'd sit there next to him at his drawing board, doodling with his drafting tools, and learning a bit about design. I was probably a real pain in the ass, but he didn't let on. As I got older, I really didn't want to be anything else than an architect. He was obviously part, a big part of it. I went on to practice for 30 years.
And sailing....as a kid, sailing with my dad on his little 16' wood boat on New York's Long Island Sound. I loved it. And loved the springtime, working side by side with him in the boatyard, sanding and painting, getting ready for the season. That was great, just "messing about with boats", together with him. And today, when anyone asks, as sailors often do over a couple of beers, "hey, how did you get started sailing", there's never any hesitation, it was my dad who taught me to sail, and a love of the sea....
He was always so supportive of Cindi and me doing this cruising stuff. When we lived in Seattle, he loved his annual visits, and we'd always find time for a few days of sailing together in the San Juan Islands, one of his favorite places. Then, since we took off a few years ago, we've stayed in touch by Skype. We'd take the laptop up to the cockpit and move the camera around the anchorage for him, he'd just love it. It was like magic to him...almost like being there with us.
Well, farewell, skipper. You'll be greatly missed.
|Enjoying a martini and a favorite anchorage...|