The Moment I Became A Grown Up

My son Evan has a habit of measuring himself against his growth chart. He stands up tall, shoulders back, chin up and anxiously awaits how he will “measure up” so to speak. After one of his recent sessions, he walked off dejected, shoulders sagging and head hanging. I followed him out of his room to offer some comfort, but before I could say anything he turned around and stated, “I’m still not a grown up, I keep waiting and waiting…” and off he went again.

I thought to myself that they should make growth charts to include not just a cold hard number, but your current stage in life such as toddler or big boy as a warmer measurement. My heart broke to think my little boy was in such a hurry to grow up. It immediately took me back to a hospital room in a small Texas town when I welcomed him into the world and our family. It also took me back to another hospital room…this one the place where Evan’s mommy became a grownup.

My dad was an amazing man. He approached life with a passion for living and a love of family. Weekends at our house always seemed like a celebration with aunts, uncles, cousins and friends always gathered for some kind of potluck event complete with music and dancing. For my grandparents, he was the last of eleven children but throughout his life he was the first to offer a helping hand and welcome a newcomer into our family circle. His friends ranged from a Corporate CEO to the guys who picked up our trash every Tuesday and Thursday. He was a hard-working man and preferred working with his hands and outdoors whenever possible.

DadandMe

So, it came as a huge shock to all when he was stricken with cancer and deteriorated immensely within a matter of months. I was a sophomore in college and my siblings and I flew back home during those final weeks. We did the usual round the clock bedside vigil with him at the hospital during long days and even longer nights.

One particular morning I remember getting to the hospital and sitting by his bedside. As I held his hand and looked into his eyes I knew there was something he wanted to ask of me. He softly whispered, “Please take me home. I don’t want to die in a hospital room. I want to be home, surrounded by those I love, celebrating my life.”

Had there been a growth chart in the room at that moment my measurement would have suddenly changed from carefree college student to full-blown grownup.

I jumped to my feet and made all the necessary arrangements to transport him home. My mom rode with him in the ambulance and I headed to the pharmacy to fill his pain medication only to leave that same pharmacy without the meds but with an urgency to get home. He arrived to find a houseful of family and within a couple of hours of being home he looked around him trying to take it all in. He asked my mom if all his loved ones were there and when she reassured him they were, he took a deep breath and finally went home.

For some, losing a loved one is an immediate gateway to adulthood. For me, it wasn’t the moment he took his last breath that I became a grown up. Instead it was the moment I realized I was able to fulfill his last wish.

This was an excerpt from my book, Red Circle Days available on AmazonKindleNook, the Apple iBookstore, and Sarah Book Publishing.

 


36 thoughts on “The Moment I Became A Grown Up

  1. Oh wow. I don’t consider myself to be overly sentimental, but the growth chart analogy at your father’s hospital room? I have some very real goosebumps. Beautifully written from the opening sentence which blew me away with its accuracy to the story about your son (my mommy heart ached for him) and finally to that hospital room, I’ve mentioned.

    • Thank you Katia for taking the time to read my thoughts. I really left my heart on the screen with this one and am glad that came across. Words cannot begin to truly express how it felt to know I fulfilled my dad’s last wish. I appreciate you having it shared it as well.

  2. Oh, tears, both for your loss and for you being able to fulfill your dad’s last wish. That is huge. Your childhood sounds wonderful with so many friends around all of the time. Absolutely lovely.

    • I was definitely blessed to have been surrounded by such love and witness amazing, trusting, relationships all around me. Thank you for taking the time to read as I try to put feelings into words.

  3. WOW! As sad as I am for you that you lost your Dad, I’m so happy that you were able to do that for him! Sadly, I did not have that opportunity. My Dad was in the earlier stages of Alzheimers, so he moved from Cape Cod to NY to live with my sister and her family (I was living in New Orleans at the time). He wanted nothing more than to go back to the Cape (even escaped once), but he wasn’t able to function on his own. Fortunately, I also moved to NY before he passed, so I was able to spend time with him, and his death was the result of a head injury from a fall rather than the Alzheimer’s, so he never got so bad that he didn’t recognize us, etc., but I still carry the weight of not being able to get him back “home” to Cape Cod one more time. 😦 [#FTSF]

    • I’ve witnessed several family members in various stages of Alzheimers and I always say that the beauty in Alzheimers is that the person transports themselves to a place of their choosing. In the end, hopefully he was “home” in his mind regardless of his surroundings. Hugs to you!

  4. That’s a huge responsibility and you shouldered it well. You did it for him, and that’s rather wonderful, even though it’s all wrapped up in so much grief and hurt.

    Very well written.

    • Thank you my friend. My dad and I had that kind of relationship (which I still miss dearly), but feel blessed to have had at all. Obviously, I wish it wouldn’t have been so, but if it had to be then I’m glad I was able to make it right for him in the end.

  5. Pingback: The Final Toast « littlemisswordy

  6. How wonderful that you did what it took to get him home. Big kudos to you, and how wonderful that he trusted you enough to ask you. It’s a very touching story.

  7. I lost my dad to cancer when I was twelve. That was the year I grew up in so many ways. My body may not have “measured up”, but certainly the realities of grown up life were thrust upon me. I guess it doesn’t matter if you are twelve or twenty, losing a parent is hard, but it sounds like you have lovely memories to hold on to.

    • I agree that losing a parent at any age is hard. I think the difference is some of us get a little more time with our parents than others. I can’t imagine having lost my dad at the age you lost yours, or my daughter who is almost that age losing her own father. I hope you have beautiful memories as well to bring you comfort. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your own story with me.

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