Bob Carrane

Saying Goodbye to My Dad

I have written in previous blogs about my father who has been sick and dying. Last week he died. I am not going to lie: I had a complicated relationship with him and I am grateful that in the end I showed up and got to say goodbye.

On Wednesday night, Lauren and I spoke to my mom over the phone. She said my dad had taken a turn for the worse and he would probably not make until Friday. We drove over to their house the next afternoon. When we got there, my two brothers were in the living room, one buried in his smart phone and the other one on the land line. I barely got in the living room when my older brother barked the order to go up and see my father. I hate being told what to do, even in times like this, but I get it — we all grieve differently.

Lauren and I went upstairs to the tiny bedroom where my Dad lay asleep in a hospital bed. He was pretty morphined up. He could not move and could not talk.

They had hired an aide to take care of my dad. The aide was a small Filipino man dressed all in white. He was wearing a white cap and had the cleanest white gym shoes on, like they had just come out of the box. He looked like the Good Humor Man that I remember driving around in an ice cream truck when I was kid. I have fond memories of Good Humor products growing up; I loved that Toasted Almond Bar.

But the Good Humor Man wasn’t cheering me up. I felt scared and sad. Lauren and I sat in a chair next to the hospital bed and I asked the Good Humor Man a question, but the answer he gave me, either because I was uncomfortable or because of a language barrier, made no sense. I was annoyed, and then he said, “He can hear you.”

I said hello to my dad and he began to cough, and then he opened his eyelids slightly at the sound of my voice. He was somewhat lucid, considering the amount of morphine he was taking. My throat got tight and my eyes teared up.

I have had issues with my Dad since I can remember, some of them I have resolved and some will keep me in group therapy for the rest of my life. I always thought that work was always more important to him than his kids, that he was not a great role model, and I am not even going to bring up his criminal past, which landed him prison for 22 months.

My mouth was so dry I felt I could not speak, and honestly, I had no idea what to say. “Goodbye” did not seem appropriate since it was implied. Then my Higher Power spoke through me: “Dad, I love you,” I said. I reached over to gave him a hug and started to cry. The miracle was not what I said, it was that I meant it.

His left shoulder began to shake. He lifted his left hand to acknowledge what I just said. I imagine if he could still speak he was saying going to say, “I love you, too.” Since I have a hard time with intimate moments like this, I grabbed his hand and tried to control it and put it back down.

Later that night, my youngest sister arrived from Colorado. She got there around 10:30 p.m., and by 12:15 a.m., we got the call that my dad had died. I think he was waiting around to say goodbye to her, too.

I am like my Dad in many ways, and the one that annoys me the most is this constant feeling that I am not enough and that outside success of money, fame, power and having a building with your name on it will fix all of that. It never does, but I am stupid enough and I keep trying. He, like me, very rarely saw the gold that what was right in front from him, in his case his five kids. Most of us kids turned out pretty well — one exceptionally well, the one who is writing this blog. But my Dad could never see it until the end.

Maybe I am lying to myself, but I want to believe that my Dad finally got it, that his kids did matter to him more than he realized. That he loved us more than he realized and that I loved him more than I realized. Either way, that is how I want to remember it, so I can learn for my soon-to-be-born daughter.

18 replies
  1. Joe Mack
    Joe Mack says:

    Jimmy,
    Thanks for sharing all that. I hear so much grace, and acceptance and love.
    You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Joe

    Reply
  2. Dee La Belle
    Dee La Belle says:

    Once again Jimmy, I see your true calling as one that touches people to get honest and real with themselves. You put it all out there and the rest of us benefit. I write this as I am on my way in to talk with my pastor about my complicated relationship with my dad that continues to leave me lost and broken. Thank you so much for sharing. I am so sorry for your loss but SO glad that you’ve found yourself through it! God bless you and your family.

    Reply
  3. Megon McDonough
    Megon McDonough says:

    Oh Jimmy, this is so beautiful. And true to your great gift – you made me laugh and cry. I love a bargain.
    I love you too. I met him a few times, and once after one of your shows. He was so proud of you, I could just see it in his face! Holding you all in the Light of Love, Meg

    Reply
  4. Nicholas Nawroth
    Nicholas Nawroth says:

    Jimmy, thank you for sharing such a personal moment of your life with us. I am glad that you made the opportunity to make peace with him while he was still here. Please accept my most sincere condolences.

    Reply
  5. Kate
    Kate says:

    Blessings to you, Jimmy. May the grace of HP shelter and sustain you in the grieving process. I loved those almond ice-cream bars, too! I’m sorry the aid could not reach out to you, but I’m grateful he took care of your dad. Care doesn’t always come made to order.

    I’m grateful, too, that you were able to tell your dad you loved him at the crucial time he was dying. You gave him a priceless gift. But to feel your love for him? That is a miracle. As an abused daughter, the closest I could come when my father was dying was compassion. That was my miracle.

    Reply
  6. Sommer Austin
    Sommer Austin says:

    Sending you love, Jimmy. I didn’t get the chance to tell you this yesterday and I regret it– but you are going to be an amazing father. You are humble, soul-searching, considerate and curious. Your soon-to-be daughter could not ask for better.

    Reply
  7. Matt Rosin
    Matt Rosin says:

    Jimmy, absolutely beautiful. Similar in many ways to what I saw my father pass thru on his way to heaven.

    I put off reading this until just now because I knew it would take me right back to my last moments with my Dad. It did, and thank you for that.

    Matt

    Reply
  8. Dan Meno
    Dan Meno says:

    Hi Jimmy, wanted to share my deepest condolences with you on your dads passing. I had the pleasure of speaking to you over the phone briefly a couple years ago. I live in Indianapolis and am your 2nd cousin. I work professionally in family history and with you and Lauren expecting and continuing your line the day may come you might enjoy seeing the faces of some of your ancestors. And here the stories of coming to America. I’m 58 and hope to be around awhile, and will be hear for ya if ya every want to give me a jingle. I’m also on Facebook as are a lot of your cousins who’ve never got to hear about our wacky & funny cousin. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you through your website, blog, and podcasts and hope you’ll connect with me! WIshing Bunny and your family peace and sweet memories only at this time. Warmly Dan Meno, 317-352-0062

    Reply

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