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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Another Prince

It was dark out, and cold. I was alone in the house on a Sunday morning because of the White Rock Marathon. Sam was volunteering that morning and had been gone for an hour already, and I was sitting in front of the computer waiting for dawn, unable to sleep, feeling ... off-balance. Nothing more than that. Just a little edgy.

And I felt a need to go to church. You know, Christmas. Christmas carols and hymns. That time of year. I hadn't been to church in years other than an occasional family obligation, and the one time I missed it was usually during Christmas. So I surfed the net and looked for an early service at a strange church, because for some reason I didn't want to go to the familiar. My edginess was pushing me to something else.

I managed to choose a service with no music. A church with no Christmas decorations.

Only a handful of people that morning, and so very quiet in that century-old building, which is old by Dallas standards. I looked around and saw I just might be the only person there without gray hair. And kneelers? For kneeling? Um, this is kind of cool. I had no idea.

Everybody stood up. I did, too, belatedly.

The processional. Somebody carrying a cross, and all the people in fancy robes, quietly processing in.

You're not in Kansas any more, Dorothy.

And then, the liturgy. Okay, that got me. This beautiful Shakespearean language. Prayers that were familiar from my Methodist youth, but different. I juggled the prayer book and flipped pages and couldn't keep up and kept thinking, "This is strange, this is strange, holy cow is THIS strange!" But deep down I realized, it was a foreign experience I wanted to learn. I didn't want to scamper back to more familiar territory. I wanted to become part of this experience, this moment that felt like it had been going on centuries and would go for centuries more. Language that was old but ageless. I'm a word girl. These words were beautiful.

Hold on. People are crossing themselves. Kneeling. Genuflecting.

This is definitely not Kansas.

And when it was over and I'd managed to slip out without having to, you know, actually talk to anybody -- I realized I wasn't edgy. I felt something I could only describe as calm. Reassurance. Grace. I walked out, shook it off, and headed off to continue my Sunday plans....

Cut to the chase.

My father died later that day.

Yes, he was ill.

No, nobody saw this coming.

We saw him late that morning, laughed, visited, kissed him, went to eat lunch, then came back and he told us he needed to sleep and why didn't we go on. He was going home from the hospital the next day, and everything seemed fine.

Before I could get home my cell phone was ringing. My mother. "Go back, you have to go back to the hospital. I'm on the way. They called, they want to know if we want to implement his living will...I don't know, I don't know, I said I wanted to talk to my doctor and they said there's no time, they have to have an answer NOW."

We all flew to the hospital from different directions. Gathered, stunned to see him, eyes closed, not knowing we were there. We wept, questioned, denied. An hour passed, maybe two, and the denial was gone, acceptance oozed in.

And through every moment one part of me was standing back and feeling Grace. No other word for it. It draped over me like a mantle, wrapped me in calm, embraced me with reassurance.

He died and we were all there around him. I hope he knew. I believe he knew.

Good night, sweet Prince.

May light perpetual shine upon you.

(A best of holidailies exceptional entry.)


At 1:27 AM, Blogger Toni McGee Causey said...

Aw, Pooks, this made me cry. I'm sure he knew.

At 1:41 AM, Blogger Xeryfyn said...

May your father rest in peace--I believe he knew too.

At 8:26 AM, Blogger J said...

Wonderful writing therapy. What a blessing.

At 2:15 PM, Blogger Rob said...

Hey Pooks -- Great story. I'm sure he knew you were all there.

At 5:45 PM, Blogger pooks said...

Thanks, all. It was five years ago today, and I just realized it might be confusing -- my dad's name was Prince. And like all good Texas girls, I called him "Daddy" until the day he died. (smile)

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Candace said...

That's wonderful, Pooks.

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

Requiescat in Pacem Aeternum.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger pooks said...

Thank you.

At 1:01 PM, Blogger lacy said...

pooks- this is beautiful.

At 1:16 PM, Blogger pooks said...

Thanks, Lacy.

At 3:19 AM, Blogger Mrs. Wonderful said...

All good southern girls call them Daddy too.

I've read about how the dying find a lot of agency in their last hours, as to how and when they die. Agency within the circumstances they are given. This seems to be one of those times.

Thanks for writing this. And thanks for writing at all.

At 2:41 PM, Blogger pooks said...

Thank YOU.


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