I just returned home to Montana after spending two weeks back east, helping to care for my father who was dealing with some health issues.
On the flight home from New York, back to Montana on Sunday, I called my dad from the layover in Minneapolis, around noon. When he answered the phone in his hospital room, it sounded like I had awakened him from a deep sleep. I asked him if he wanted to go back to sleep and he said “Yes”, telling me that he was so very tired.
Looking back, I should have known something was wrong, as he always talked with me, even if he was tired. Instead, he told me that he’d talk to me later that evening. Again, rather than our normal practice of making it clear who was calling whom, he just said “I’ll talk to you later tonight, Honey. I love you”.
I boarded the flight for home. As we were landing in Montana, we flew over the snowcapped peaks of the Swan Mountain range, part of the Rocky Mountains, just outside of Glacier National Park. As I looked down on the beauty below, I thought how much my parents would have enjoyed seeing this incredible sight with me. My mother passed away 11 months ago but prior to that, they both enjoyed visiting us in Montana, and especially loved the natural beauty of Glacier National Park.
We landed, gathered our luggage and headed home. A few minutes after my husband and I walked into our home, I received a call from my sister, informing me that my dad had just passed away, just as I was flying over Glacier and “sharing” the view with my parents. It seems there are some bonds that even time and space can’t break.
Throughout the next few hours I kept thinking of my dad’s final words to me…. “I’ll talk to you later tonight, Honey. I love you”. I so wanted to go to that quiet space inside and listen for his words, but between the flood of tears and the calls from friends, the quiet never came. Just before going to sleep, my husband and I decided to watch a television program that we had recorded, to take my mind off of the pain. Unexpectedly, in the words of this program, my father kept his promise and “talked to me”.
The character in the program was speaking to a graduating class, but to me, the words were spoken to me from my father, on the very day that he died….
There are personal truths we all have to face, whether we want to or not. Everything eventually ends. I’ve never liked endings. The last day of summer, the last chapter of a great book. Endings are inevitable. Leaves fall, we close the book, we say goodbye. Today is one of those days for us. Today we say goodbye to everything that was familiar, everything that was comfortable. We’re moving on. But just because we’re parting and it hurts, there are some people who are so much a part of us, they’ll be with us, no matter what. They are our solid ground, our north star, and, the small clear voice in our heart that will be with us, always.
I am so grateful to my Dad for sharing these words- his words- with me. Amidst the wealth of wonderful memories of the times we spent together over the last 53 years, I will carry these words with me for the rest of my life. He will continue to be my solid ground, my north star, and the small clear voice in my heart that will be with me, always. I love you Dad.