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Rated: 13+ · Non-fiction · Family · #2171262
The saddest, most precious words I've ever heard.
Has everyone heard the saying that the dead will linger until all loved ones have said goodbye? I've never believed it, and even witnessing it myself, as my dad lay dying, I remain unconvinced.

My parents had the textbook WW2 marriage. Wounded in Iwo Jima, my dad spent months and months in rehabilitation. He was released from care, still with a body full of shrapnel and a hole in his back. That bullet came from the enemy and punctured one lung.

On the sly, my mom's older sister had been sending pictures of my mom to WW2 soldiers. My dad was one of them. Not long after they were united, they married and had five children.

My oldest brother was born so quickly, everyone was counting on their fingers. Apparently, the first child was conceived on their honeymoon.

My mom was stern, my dad, stoic. For the siblings, our childhood was tumultuous. If the acronym, PTSD and by extension, 'Post traumatic stress disorder" could be applied to people, that would be us. Privately, as my mom would we horrified, my siblings and I all speculated she might have suffered from bipolar disorder. Maybe it was the strain of worrying about five kids, and my dad.

Marriage wasn't always peaches and roses, rainbows and laughter for my parents. Mom fought with silence. She'd command one of the siblings, "Please ask your father to pass me the butter." She never understood why he whistled when they were fighting. She even asked me one time! My thought was, maybe it calms him down because he's upset. They never exchanged a harsh word in front of us, but the silence hurt more than words.

My dad had his first heart attack when he was only fifty years old. It remained a medical issue for his entire life. And it terrified my mom.

What made my parents unique? The list is endless. What lingers in my mind are the endearments they used. Mom never called Dad by his first name and vice-versa. Dad was Sweetheart and Mom was Honey.

All the family came from various states when we heard our dad was taking a turn for the worst. Brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, and and grandchildren all visited him with him on the same day. No one knew that day would be his last.

When I first waked into his room, somehow, no matter how odd it sounds, I swear to this day he looked at me and said, "I'm done." But how was that possible through an oxygen mask? I've decided not to explain away the phenomenon.

I was the last one to see him alive, somewhere around ten at night. Agitated as I stood by his bed, his hands were flaying and he kept reaching for me and grunting. He wanted to get out of the hospital. I left, blinking away tears so my mom wouldn't get even more upset.

The phone rang around midnight. Dad had died. His heart finally gave out.

Everyone gathered in the cold hospital room, my dad laid out with nothing covering him. I asked the nurse, "Can't you put at least a sheet over him?"

One by one, we had our last, private look at Dad. He looked so peaceful, a relief for everyone because he suffered so in the end. I think my mom took a Xanax or something because she was sitting quietly in a chair behind all of us. Then it was her turn.

"Oh, sweetheart, I'm going to miss you so."

Four years later, I still cry every time I remember her words.

Newsfeed challenge. Song with the lyrics "honey and sweetheart" gave inspiration, and the strength to write these words.

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