August 23, 2006 - The last day I saw my father.
My father had moved to South Carolina back in 2001. A couple of times a year, he would come up to visit my brothers and I and our families. In May of 2006, he came to visit in order to tell us that he had cirrhosis of the liver. His doctor told him that if he stopped drinking completely, he would have 10 years. My father wasn't about to stop - he'd just drink when he travelled. We talked about his wishes, etc.
In August, my dad made another trip up before the weather got too cold for him. Looking back on the pictures later, his health had obviously deteriorated and he had lost a ton of weight. Both my brothers had noticed this, but I didn't. Both Lyle and Nathan were sure this would be the last time they saw him.
Me? I knew his doctor had lessened his life expectancy to 5 years. I knew he was moving slower. But, I "knew" I'd see him again. Not to worry.
I spend most of my life being wrong about things. This was the worst thing to be wrong about.
August 23, 2006 was a hectic day. My kids were beginning school that week. I was, in fact, at the store when dad came to the house. I arrived a few minutes after he did. I did take time to take a few pictures of him and the kids together - pictures that he wanted copies of as soon as I had the chance. Pictures he never got.
As always, when he left, we hugged and said "I love you!" He was hoping to make another trip in October or November. We'd be looking forward to it.
I talked with dad on the phone 3 or 4 more times after that visit. He died a couple of days before making the autumn trip.
August 23, 2006. I didn't know that would be the last time I'd ever see my father. If I had known, I'm sure I would have savored every moment, took more pictures, and asked more questions about his life. I was glad to see my dad that day, but I took the visit for granted.
I just didn't know.