The hospital room was chilly and I felt uncomfortable and a little frightened about being left alone with Dad in this condition. He was struggling for air but they had not put him on a ventilator at his request. I guessed this was a brave and wise decision. Or was it really? I held his hand tightly. I didn’t really know what to say to him. Could he hear me?

Dad had suffered a paralyzing stroke ten years before at his desk at work. Of course this would be the way it would happen.When you looked up workaholic, his picture appeared. But, the stroke left him paralyzed on his entire left side and in a wheelchair.

He had always been an intelligent man. He was a successful businessman. Even after the stroke he would carry on great conversations with me about politics and the economy.

He was proud of my accomplishments at the mortgage company and enjoyed hearing the latest details of what I was doing and where I was heading, as he watched me climb the ladder. It must have reminded him of himself somehow.

The nurse came in to check his vitals. His blood pressure was very low. She didn’t offer much information.

Dad’s doctor had told me that day I should contact the family and if anyone had anything they needed to clear up with Dad, they should do it in the next few weeks. Of course I called my sister and brother and told them what the Doctor had said. They were both thousands of miles away. Should they come?

Surely, he wouldn’t pass now. This could go on for weeks. Couldn’t it?

The sun was shining through the large window casting a warm yellow light on his white blanket. He didn’t move under it. He lay still just barely breathing. I listened for each breath. The machines beeped every few seconds, but the room was still.

Suddenly I sensed he was trying to tell me something. I stood up from my chair and squeezed his hand and told him I was there. He was struggling to say something. I could not make it out. I squeezed his hand maybe even too hard as if I was holding him here. Keeping him from leaving me again.

And he was gone.

Just like he was there the day I was born, in that hospital, holding my tiny infant hand. I held his hand till his breath was gone.

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