Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Dog Named Blitz - Epilogue

I had just kicked out my team from my office.  We had completed with our weekly Thursday status meeting, and I was in the process of deciding what task I'd begin next.  In the meantime, my mind wandered toward the weekend.  I was planning on taking Deuce, my four year old yellow lab, up to see my Dad at the memory care facility on Saturday.  It was going to be a nice weekend, and Dad and I could sit in the courtyard, and he could throw the ball for Deuce, as he really seemed to enjoy it.  Just like he enjoyed throwing the ball for Blitz years before. 
I got my mind focused and started in on a task, but my vibrating iPhone snapped me out of my productivity, and I could see from the name and picture on the face of the phone that my wife was calling.  "Hi, honey," I answered "How are you doing?" 
"Mikey," she replied, "your dad died." 
"NO!" I screamed and dropped the phone like it was on fire.  I got up, walked over to my office door and slammed it.  "NO!  THAT'S NOT FAIR! THAT'S NOT FAIR!" I shouted.  I headed back to the phone lying on my desk.  I didn't want to pick it up.  I turned and headed back to the door, not sure of where I was going.  Anywhere, I guess, than back to the phone.  As my hand touched the handle of the door, I reversed course again and headed back to the phone.  I picked it up.  "That's not fair!" I said to my wife.  "Deuce and I were going to see him this weekend.  That's not fair..."
As I broke down, my wife gently explained that my Dad was eating his lunch, and that he ended up accidentally choking to death.  It was not an uncommon method of dying for patients with advanced cases of dementia, and while the staff did everything they could to save his life, Dad died there on the floor of the dining area of the memory care facility. 
Of course, it ultimately was for the best.  Dementia is a horrible, horrible illness, and Dad had suffered for so many years.  At long last, the suffering had been brought to an end, and he was at peace.  And, ultimately, so too were all of us who loved him. 
As were his wishes, Dad was cremated.  Our family held a mass and Irish wake in celebration of his life, and it went down as the best party my family had ever thrown.  My Dad, a man who loved life so much, would have adored it all.  After the celebration, our family held a private ceremony for Dad's ashes, which were to be interned at a nice cemetery near where Mom lived.  However, in working with the funeral director and unbeknownst to the priest conducting the internment, a very small urn of some of Dad's ashes were kept separate from the main urn to be interned.  That small urn was given to me. 
The fist Saturday after the ceremony, I loaded Deuce in the truck and drove up to duck camp with the small urn that was entrusted to me.  Upon arriving, I put the urn in my pocket, donned my waders, opened up the back of the truck to let air in, but did not let Deuce out, much to her vocal displeasure.  I then proceed to make my way down Gucci Point. 
Upon arriving to the end, a place that Dad had loved so much, I pulled out the urn and opened it up.  "Dad," I said aloud as I looked down into his ashes, "I'd like to think that some of your heart is here in these ashes, but I know some of it is here in this place.  Blitz is here too.  She's a heck of a dog, Dad.  She'll keep you company.  We'll all be back here soon - it will be duck opener in a couple of weeks." 
I paused, as tears started to stream down my face. "I love you Dad.  I miss you."  And with that I tipped the small urn and waived my arm, scattering Dad's ashes around the point. 
I stood there among the ashes, closed my eyes, and just wept.  After a while I sealed up the empty urn, and hurled it as far as I could into the middle of the lake.  I then wiped the tears from my face, turned, and headed back to Deuce and the truck, leaving behind me the place that now bore the ashes of my two best hunting partners. 
Both of whom I love and miss so dearly.  

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