Home > Uncategorized > 9/12: The Day My World Stood Still

9/12: The Day My World Stood Still

9/11/01 will be a date that many of us will remember as long as we live, and history will mark even beyond our lifetimes. However 9/12/00, the day my Dad passed away, was the first day for me that the world seemed to stand still.

It was a day like many others – a bright, sunny, beautiful fall day. My wife and I were returning together from work and she asked me if I wanted to go see Mom and Dad. My first thought was no. I don’t even remember why, but I was irritated with Dad and didn’t really want to go see him.

For some reason, however, I thought about it and decided we should stop by. When we arrived at the house, my parents, an uncle and his girlfriend were out back on the patio. Dad was showing my Uncle Joe an RV he had that my uncle was interested in buying. The lawn was freshly cut, the house was clean inside and out. Everyone was in a great mood.

I remember thinking Dad looked a little tired – maybe not 100% up to par. He had a number of health issues – diabetes, heart issues, mini-strokes, so it wasn’t completely out of the ordinary that he would look tired.

Dad went out to show my uncle the RV. After a few minutes he came walking toward the house clutching his chest and told my Mom that he was in trouble.

When he was feeling ill, Dad was a very private person. He usually didn’t want us to see him sick, so we stayed outside while Mom and Dad went in the house. Within moments, Mom came back out of the house calling out to me that she needed help.

When I came inside to see what was the matter I was shocked to find my Dad dead sitting in his favorite chair in the living room. I knew it the moment I saw him.

My uncle and I attempted to revive him while Mom called 911, but to no avail. In an instant, he was gone. Sadly, the same loss is repeated every day for so many families. 

Just over a year later, tragedy struck the families of 9/11. I felt like it struck me too, following just one day shy of the year anniversary of Dad’s passing. It was like a punch in the gut seeing the second plane crash into the South Tower.

When someone you love dies, one of the most difficult things to do is tell other family members. I remember having to call my older brother and break the news to him. Then, after that, my younger brother came to the hospital with his girlfriend (now wife) and I had to tell him. It is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

So much of the rest is a blur. I held up pretty well through the funeral – giving a eulogy for my Dad. Well, help up pretty well until the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” started to play – one of Dad’s favorites. That finally got me to break down and cry.

Two of the things I remember most vividly however are returning from the hospital after Dad died. It was a beautiful, clear night with a full moon. I had to take my little Shih-Tzu Herbie outside to go to the bathroom. It seemed so unreal having to do something so mundane after something so earth shattering.

The other thing I remember was one day exiting my house out the side door onto the carport. The minute I walked outside I smelled my Dad’s cologne. I figured I was imagining it, so I asked my wife to come outside and tell me if she smelled anything and she said the exact same thing – it was his cologne. In that moment, I knew he was still there.

Eventually, those moments passed, and it felt as if he left this world. Slowly, at first, the world started spinning again. But, for a few moments, every year around this time, my world pauses for just a moment as I think about my Dad’s passing and that of so many others on 9/11 and 9/12.
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