Passing of my Father

In the Duke’s Left Eye, I use a story that my Father told me as bedtime story when I was very small. Dad took the old Phillip of Macedonia story about the archer and made it suitable for a small boy. I took the basic premise from Dad’s story and wrote the story that is now waiting at Neverary.

Dad died July 11 in the early morning hours. He was fading fast and having trouble breathing. A pain therapist gave him something to help him rest and I think it may have suppressed Dad’s breathing enough so that he just passed away in his sleep. I am grateful to the anonymous pain therapist who helped my father into a gentle good night. The cancer gave him great pain and he had not been very lucid for weeks.

I was in the hospital with Dad. I was trying to read a novelette by Algys Budries, but Dad’s labored breathing made it hard to concentrate. Dad, yelled out “Mom!” and opened his eyes. He was calling my mother (dad called her Mom, too). I said told him that she had gone home for some rest and would be back soon. “Larry?” he asked, meaning my brother. “No, it’s me, Dad.” I said. “Keith” he agreed. He had to use the commode, but he forgot that he had a catheter. “You’ve got a catheter, Dad,” I explained. “You don’t have to get up. Just relax and let ‘er rip.” He put his head back and laughed. It was the first chuckle that I had heard from him in a while.

Dad fell back to sleep and we never spoke again. My last words to my Dad were “Let ‘er Rip.” There was no great philosophy or unsaid emotions. Our last conversation was about having to pee. Dad and I didn’t have heartfelt conversations. We both try to be stoic and suppress our emotions. “Let ‘er Rip” is a man’s phrase. It is full of action and a positive approach to living and dying. It is as good a final word as I can think of. I think Dad would agree. It makes for a good story.

Joseph Lawrence Graham July 5, 1921 – July 11, 2004

“Let ‘er Ripâ€�