This is my dad. He died of COVID19 on Easter Sunday. He was 93 and a resident of Ridgefield Crossings. We are grateful for the wonderful Ridgefield Crossings aides who were with him every step of the way (their Juanito, Señor y el Capitán) as well as the RVNAhealth Hospice team who kept him comfortable during his final journey. I think it's important to remember the people as opposed to just remembering the statistics.
My brother wrote a brief tribute last week which he's given me permission to share. It's a love story of life and death during the coronavirus.
The Final Manhattan
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak in the facility, they weren’t allowed entrance and instead figured out a way to traverse onto the roof and stand by his window so that we all could be with him during his final days.
Last Tuesday, my two sisters and their families facetimed me from outside of my father’s room at Ridgefield Crossings. Due to the Coronavirus outbreak in the facility, they weren’t allowed entrance and instead figured out a way to traverse onto the roof and stand by his window so that we all could be with him during his final days. As he lay peacefully in his bed, my brothers and I were then able to see him and ultimately say goodbye through the phone. While it was incredibly sad, it’s also simply a function of the world as it exists today and I actually feel incredibly fortunate that technology and some ingenuity gave us the ability to experience that moment and I will be forever grateful for it.
Tuesday ended up being only the first of many trips to the roof for my sisters. Later that afternoon and multiple times in the days that followed, they would visit in the morning and go back in the afternoon to celebrate some final family happy hours with him. They rotated their beverage of choice, but on that first day, they had Manhattans, both of my parents’ favorite drink. Odd as it may sound, my parents having a Manhattan late in the afternoon is actually one of my fondest memories. Mind you these weren’t the high brow Manhattans popular in the bars today. These were just straight 2 shots inexpensive whiskey, one-shot sweet vermouth, an orange slice and a cherry. No bitters, fanfare or pretension. The memory though isn’t really about the drink, but rather about a time to end the day and turn your attention to laughter, love and time with your family.
When I think of my life with my parents, I have so many memories of times like those. When I think in particular about my father, I remember those times but also about how he made me feel and act. I always wanted to make my father proud. When I say that, I don’t mean in a way like “oh he never thought I was good enough” or “I’ll show him what I can do.” In fact, it was just the opposite. It wasn’t about seeking praise, but rather a way to show my appreciation for all he had done for me. That in some small way or another, I managed to harness all of his and Mom’s love, compassion and support and did something good with it.
This morning on Easter Sunday, my father passed away, ending a full and courageous life.
This afternoon, my siblings and I did a teleconference happy hour in his honor.
As we spent the time together laughing and reminiscing, I envisioned my parents sitting on the front porch of a beautiful house on the beach, watching over us while slowly rocking in their chairs, holding hands on one side while cradling Manhattans on the other. As they gazed at all of us and further out on the horizon that showed the story of their lives, I hope they sat happy and fully content in the moment.
Most importantly though, I hope they felt immensely proud of all that they accomplished.
Salud Mom & Dad. Thanks for everything.