Death of a Rittmanite

My dad died yesterday. Well, he died yesterday plus 27 years. I’ve spent the last 27 years of my life without a father, which, one would believe, has had a great deal of influence over who I am today.

Saturday, March 1, 1980, 7:30 p.m. at the Cleveland Clinic. I was at home with granny. We were watching the Muppets during that time, Paul Williams, I think. I was 10-years-old. Tiny, my dad, was 40.

Rewind approx. 10 months.

I was sitting in the upstairs hallway of our house. Bedroom doors were closed because I was throwing with the mustered strength of a mighty 10-year-old a bouncy ball that you get in the vending machine. The doors were closed so I could see how many times I could get the ball to ricochet before hitting the carpet. Dad was taking a bath. We didn’t have a shower, ya know. Mom came upstairs as my father said, “JC come look at this lump”. Why did I hear that? Why is this so vivid a memory when my normal brain function often balks at remembering to comb my hair?

Blur…blur….random memory of dad in the hospital…blur…blur…memory of the Cleveland Clinic smelling funny, but they had an ice cream machine in the cafeteria…blur..blur…dad at home, unable to eat, and getting sick while trying. He cried.

Blur…blur…back at the Cleveland Clinic, dad had a pretty cool roommate who talked to me…blur…Dad choking in his hospital room because an O2 tube got twisted in his throat. I was so scared and ran from the room to hide….Blur…different day at the CC, being lead into a waiting area by a family friend…

“Timmy, your daddy is going to die today.”

I cried.

I went to see him for the last time. I’m told that he was pretty much unresponsive until I walked in. When I crawled beside him he took off his O2 mask. He told me how much he loved me. “We will meet again. At some other time, in some other place.”

I told him I loved him, kissed him, and was taken out of the ICU.

He died that night.

Blur…food…blur…people….blur….food and people and food and people….funeral home….visitation…so many people…funeral and cemetery…big black car, uncle reaching in through the window to hug mom, my brother and me…blur..

The rest of my life without my father.

It makes me cry, even now. I loved him so much.

 

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6 Replies to “Death of a Rittmanite”

  1. Wow, very touching I found myself felling very emotional as well. We are big watchers of Grey’s Anatomy and one of the recent episodes had one of the doctors unable to save his own father from cancer. After the loss of his father the usual cold and unemotional asian doctor told him your in the club, the dead dad club. She went on to say it sucks, it happened to me when I was 9 and I still think about it every day. Then she hugged him and that was the end of the episode.

  2. brings back a lot of memories. I can remember sitting at my house alone going”please don’t die, please don’t die.” I was shaking. I was alone with the thoughts of a ten year old. That was my first dealing with death,and I remember it vivedly.Do you remember walking around Gillmans with your Merlin? I recall that like yesterday. you called me the next day and said your dad died. you cried on the phone. I remember saying, it’ll be all right.I didn’t know what to say, but that sounded right.

  3. funny that the first anonymous mentioned grey’s anatomy. i thought of you during that episode. don’t know why. just did. and my uncle who is so much like you it scares me sometimes. he was 11 when his dad died. by the way, it makes me cry, even now, too, and i didn’t know your dad at all. didn’t need to. hugs.

  4. I only remember a couple of things, my parents taking me to Gillman’s for the first time for a viewing. You were not in line and I remember seeing your mom and grandmother. Then I saw you. I have no idea what I said or even if you saw me. Your post brings back memories and sadness.

  5. Your description of March 1st 1980 certainly evoked a flow of emotions I thought had passes into history. But, as quickly as a pane of glass shatters when being hit by a hammer, they took me back to that day. It seems as though the pain never goes away. I loved our Dad too.

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