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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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