My mother had left me a voicemail at work. Even before I retrieved it, I
had a feeling that I knew what it was. “Hello?”
“Ms. Marie, you rang?”
“Is something wrong?”
“I think we have a problem.”
“It’s your father. I think he stopped breathing.”
I could feel my mind shutting down and automatic pilot kick in. “Are you sure he’s not breathing?”
She hesitated. “Yes.”
“Did you call 9-1-1?”
“Do you want me to call 9-1-1?”
“Is anyone else home?”
“Yes. Keith and Robin are here.”
“Have one of them call 9-1-1. You need me?”
“I’m on my way.”
As I hung up the telephone, it felt like someone was sticking thousands of needles into my face and chest. I remember thinking God; I hope I’m not having a heart attack. I guess I was in shock.
I walked to my supervisor’s cubicle. She took one look at my face and stood up. “Rita, what is it?”
“My father just died,” I replied faintly, and felt tears run down my face.
She immediately put her arms around me. “I’m so sorry, sit down.” She took my hands.
“I have to leave.”
“I know. Who can I get to drive you home?”
I wiped my face. “I can drive.”
But she wouldn’t hear of it. “You may think you’re okay but I’ll feel better if someone else drives you.”
I thought for a second and regained my composure. “Leena in HR. I’m sure she’d be able to.”
“You stay right here and I’ll get her.”
I stayed seated in Terry’s cube as I tried to fathom the fact that my father was dead and no one had called the ambulance. Then I saw Leena race by on her way to my cube. I stood up as she came back and saw me; then she ran over and enveloped me in a hug, murmuring words of comfort. Sure enough, that started me crying again but only for few seconds.
“Where’s your stuff? Are you ready to go?”
“I have to turn off my computer and get my purse.”
“I can take care of that,” Terry said.
“I have to fill out a form for leaving early.”
“Don’t worry about that,” Terry said as the three of us made it over to my cube. “Leena, can you pull your car up? Rita and I will meet you there so we can avoid any questions.”
“Sure thing.” She gave me another squeeze. “I’ll meet you in a couple of minutes.”
At my cube I quickly put an ‘out of office’ message on my email, told Terry that I’d do the phone voicemail later and collected my purse and little work bag. She thought we should go out the back way to avoid any questions, and I agreed. However, when we got to the back entrance, there was no Leena. After a couple of minutes we realized that she probably went to the front lobby entrance, so we went there and luckily didn’t encounter anyone on the way.
Sure enough, after a minute Leena drove up and I got into her car. “Don’t worry, I’ll get you home real quick,” she said in her
That proved to be prophetic. I had no idea her little Honda could go that fast; but thankfully there were no state troopers on the highway that afternoon. Even though I know we talked, it’s difficult to remember much of what was said. I told her about what my mother had said, and she asked, “Do you think anyone did call 9-1-1?”
“I’m sure someone did.” I had my hands tightly clasped together. I was subconsciously willing the car to go faster because I knew I needed to get to my parents’ house.
When we finally hit that block I could see there was already an ambulance in attendance, and a police car was there as well. “This doesn’t look good,” I said.
Leena pulled up at the service station right next door and I jumped out of the car after quickly grabbing my things. She followed me into the house…
Tomorrow marks 10 years since I lost my father. This is an excerpt from a book I wanted to write about his last year with us. But as you can see: I wasn’t able to do it.
I loved my father and I still miss him. And that year was one that had a major impact on my life, and changed me in ways I didn’t anticipate.
Hmm, maybe this will be the year I finish the book. Within the next 12 months, conceivably. With that being said: I’ll keep you posted…
Miss you Daddy Clank.