After visiting my Father in the hospital on July 18, 2004 it was less than a month before he passed away. I wasn't present when he passed but I heard his family was right there by his side. I'll never forget that last visit we had together. When Dad heard that my older brother Carl and I had arrived he had tears in his eyes, we held his hands and we both told him how much we loved him and assured him we were there. He was happy we made the trip to Rochester and I realized quickly that this would be our last time together.
The next morning his pain became worse so the pain meds were increased. By then I think he knew that he may not be making it home again. Sometime that same day as we were standing by his bed my Dad said in a low cracking voice; "Boys, get me outta here, I want to go home." I remember feeling helpless to honor his pleas accompanied by moaning. My brother and I answered, "We can't do that Dad." My Father said; "Then what good are you? Go back to California." Those words really cut me deep though I didn't want them to affect me at all. My step Mom ensured me that it was the drugs talking.
It's not been until recently that I've been able to finally understand that my Dad didn't want to die in a hospital. He wanted the predicable comforts of home in his final days. It's taken me four years to finally forgive him for those words that sounded so familiar to the ones I heard often growing up. I knew it wasn't the meds talking, that's who my Dad was. He always demanded what he wanted from everyone and if you couldn't deliver then get out of the way. Nobody got a pass on my Dad's expectations, especially those he felt closest to.
The thing about my Dad is he never learned how to make demands without causing offense. Words were his greatest weapon when I was growing up and my armor was always extremely thin. Some things never do change no matter how badly we wish them to. You can take the boy from his Dad, but you can never take Dad out of the boy, even long after he's become a man with children of his own.
I still get to see my Father every now and then in an unscheduled dream. He looks great, he looks happy and has little to say. He just smiles. No words are required now and neither is my armor. If only in my dreams, I know he finally made it home. It will be Father's Day again soon. How can I ever forget?
In Loving Memory of Raymond F. Basile