Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Sad Honor and Privilege

I don't think I have ever seen the words "Sad, Honor and Privilege" used in the same sentence before, but these are the only words I can use to describe an experience I had this weekend.

My father-in-law was a brilliant man who had been everywhere and done everything. He was a retired corporate photographer for Boeing who was present and actively taking photographs of all sorts of experimental situations such as contour helicopter flights while harnessed to the bottom of the helicopter. He was there to document nearly every experiment.

Aside from his professional life, he was a mountain climber. He was still skiing at age 80. He had great mechanical and engineering abilities. He repaired watches and clock. He rebuilt engines and boats and never feared jumping into any projects.

He collected all sorts of things, but the bulk of his collection were cameras and pocket watches.

He visited us often and took great interest in what ever we were doing, be it, raising chickens, bees or horses. He was fascinated by all of my wife's skills and equipment for processing wool into yarn. He was a big fan of cool tools.

I have fond memories of him enjoying a daily beer with chips and salsa on our back porch as we watched the activity from the bees hives and chickens out in the yard.

His health started failing in September. My wife went down to care for him five months ago. Things had taken a turn for the worse on Friday so I went down to help her out. I arrived late in the evening just in time to have a few words with him and assist him to get into bed. He slept through the night slept all day Saturday. We called his Hospice nurse to come to evaluate his condition. He had entered his final stage. She told us he could be with us for hours or days.

At about 8:50pm on Saturday evening, 24 hours after we helped him into his bed, his breathing changed. His eyes opened slightly as to take a final gaze of this world. One of his clocks chimed as he exhaled his final breath at 9PM.

I am fortunate to have known this remarkable man and I feel it was a sad honor and privilege to be there at his passing. It was his time at 87 years of age. He had lived a full life and I doubt he had any regrets. He did good.


Blogger Donna said...

Sounds like he led an interesting and full life. Nobody could ask more.

4:11 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

And you did good also.

5:04 AM  
Anonymous Auntie said...

Ditto what Donna said.

We could all only be so lucky as to hold fascination throughout our lives like he did by big things and also by the little things - like bees and chickens.

We could also be so lucky to have the ending as he did, supported with his children around him 24/7 and then just deciding it was okay to stop living when he felt everything was in order.

Hats off to N! and to your wife for being able to be there. And may he rest eternally with that smile on his face. :)

Having been with my dad when he passed I can say it truly IS a sad honor.

5:59 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

Sounds like a man who lived life in big handfuls and enjoyed himself. The world is no a smaller place without him in it.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Rachel Kiernan said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. It sounds as though he lived a full and happy life and who was ready when his time came. Being younger than you with a much older father (he'll be 98 in June), I am trying to prepare myself for this as well. It still kills me.

I'm so glad you have a loving wife to help you through this. It's good to always spend time with those we love because none of us knows how long we have. We should make the most of it.

-- Rachel

12:27 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Thanks everyone. I'll pass your kind words onto my wife.

5:06 AM  
Blogger dalia said...

So sorry to hear it, Tom... Condolences to you, your wife and family. :-(

4:51 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Thanks, Dalia.

5:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He had a great, exciting life plus you LIKED him. Quite a testament. Condolences on your family's loss.

6:43 AM  

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