My father passed away on this day, February 28, four years ago. Those kinds of days get frozen in memory.
I didn’t visit him the day he died. It was the day we started Coffee News, and I was out delivering our first papers. I did go by his house that day and looked in on him. He was asleep.
I did visit twice the day before.
Once, at lunch. I was in the kitchen, eating some of his food, and talking with Tammy, his caregiver. He walked in there, without the walker or wheelchair. I looked up from the kitchen table and he was sitting across from me, breathing hard.
â€œYou’re paying for that,â€ Tammy said.
Pulling for air, he nodded.
Later that night, I was at Port City Java, buying a cup of coffee for me and a piece of cheesecake for him. He liked cheesecake enough to take a bite or two of it, towards the end, when he barely ate anything at all.
He called my cell phone to tell me that somebody good was on Larry King. I wish I could remember who it was, but can’t. I do remember it was somebody he knew was of special interest to me. I went over and we watched the show together â€“ something we did many nights.
After that, we watched a basketball game.
As I was leaving, he asked me if I would be back the following night to watch Wake Forest play. He was a Carolina fan first, but he also loved Wake Forest out of sympathy for me (and because sending me there cost him a lot of money!)
Wake had a pretty bad team that year, and I think they were up against a much better team from Florida State. I said, almost cruelly, that they were going to get killed and I didn’t want to see it. Instead, I told him, I would watch American Idol with my daughter â€“ and then visit after the show.
He died during American Idol (and he was a real one).
The picture here is from about 2003 or 2004, I think. Taken in our house with an early PDA camera (fancy tech at the time). Not great resolution, but a fun picture that I enjoy often.
[Thanks to the generosity and superior searching skills of Crystal Holmberg, I now remember Larry’s guest that night. I had already tried, but Crystal successfully located that night’s transcript. Larry’s guest on Feb. 27, 2006, was Jon Stewart — certainly my very favorite, as Dad knew].