I've heard that writing is good therapy. I guess I wrote this to get it off my chest.
|I'll never forget the day, April 28th, in 1975. It was the worst day of my life (so far). A couple of events have come close, but nothing has ever exceeded the heartache I felt on that day. I was eleven years, eleven months, and a week old, and looking forward to my twelfth birthday. My father had already been asking me what I wanted for my birthday. He said I could have anything I wanted. I told him, jokingly, that I wanted a horse. Little did I know, he took me seriously.
I decided to go for a bike ride, like I had so many times before. On the way out the door, I heard my father tell me not to go too far, as supper was almost ready. I nodded and replied, "Yes, sir."
A few days earlier, I was on my way out the door, headed for a bike ride, when my father told me to come back and give him a kiss goodbye. I hesitated at the door, feeling kind of awkward. Why, I'm not sure. It might have had something to do with the fact that I was going through the early stages of puberty, and was not fully comfortable with it yet.
My father scolded me for hesitating, then gave me a kiss and a hug, and told me to remember, that I would never get too old to kiss my father. I remember telling him okay.
This day was different, though. We had not had much conversation at all, before I left for my ride. It seemed just like a normal day, not a cloud in the sky.
I hopped on my bike, and pedaled up the hill to the next street, then up another hill to the next street, which led to a main road, Snapfinger Road. That was the road in which my school was located. I was in sixth grade, and I was pretty much a straight A student. My father always helped me with my homework. We were close like that.
It was my plan to ride by my elementary school, and then maybe ride by the local high school also. I got about halfway to my school, when I started to get a strange feeling that maybe I should turn around and go back home. I don't know what it was, call it a premonition, but somehow I knew that I wasn't going to make it to both schools.
I pedaled a little farther down the main road, when the feeling became stronger. It was almost like a voice in my head, that kept repeating, louder and louder, until it was an overwhelming obsession. It was like someone had suddenly screamed inside of my head, "Go home!"
Finally, I turned the ten-speed around, and headed back home. When I got to the street around the corner from my house, I saw my friend, Leslie. She shouted at me, "Your father's had a heart attack!" I felt the adrenaline reach my legs, as I suddenly had the strength to pedal even faster.
"No, this cannot be happening," I thought. "I must get there as fast as I can!" I rounded the first hill before my house, cut through the neighbor's yard, and pedaled down the second hill furiously. When I reached the driveway, I didn't even put on the brakes. I just hopped off the bike and let it go sailing into the yard. Then I dashed inside.
My father was still sitting upright in his favorite chair. He was unconscious, which scared me. No sooner had I had a chance to think about what to do, when the ambulance arrived, and the paramedics rushed in. They threw their bags on the floor, and immediately threw my father onto the floor. One of them looked up at me, and told me to leave. "I can't leave - that's my father," I said to him.
He just shook his head and yelled, "Somebody get her out of here!" as his attention went swiftly back to the task at hand. I knew that if anybody was going to save my father's life, it would be him, so I stepped back and was silent. (Nobody came to "get me out of there".)
I watched, as the young paramedic performed cardio pulmonary resuscitation on my dear father, but he just lay there, silent and still. When there was no response, the paramedic took out the shock paddles, and rubbed them together. I remember seeing my father's body bounce up in the air, when they applied the power. I thought surely that would bring him back to life, since the CPR hadn't worked.
After the shock paddles failed to induce a heartbeat, the paramedic took a final drastic step. I watched him, as he took out a hand drill from his bag, applied it to my father's chest, and drilled a hole through his sternum. I could almost feel it myself, and I wondered if my father was able to feel it. He then shot some adrenaline into the hole created by the hand drill.
I stood there watching, and waiting, almost holding my breath. I kept telling myself, "Now... now he will start breathing... any minute now, any second now. Come on, just show a sign of life, now." I didn't want to give up hope.
When a few more moments passed, (and it seemed like eternity), I began to realize that maybe my father was gone. Panic came over me and struck like a freight train in the middle of the night. "Somebody do something!" I thought. "Surely they can do something else. Do something now!"
There was nothing anyone could do, and my father was gone, never to return. He was gone forever, and my life would change dramatically.
I found out later, that he had been making plans to get me that horse. That's just the kind of person that he was. I miss him, so much... and every day.