“Dying is easy, comedy is hard.”
–Some sorta-famous guy’s Famous Last Words
It’s been almost three years and I think I’m ready to write about it now.
In early December, 2005 I got the call I had been dreading since my Dad was diagnosed about six years before. The cancer and the heart disease which had been battling to see who got to kill him had joined forces and attacked simultaneously. If he got the next round of chemo his heart wouldn’t take it–if he got the bypass the lymphoma would have free rein until his arteries had had time to heal.
Realizing that the war was lost, he bravely opted to stop fighting.
I flew home, across the country, as soon as I could, to be by his side. I arrived on the evening of his last night on earth. Family and friends, my brother, my sisters, nieces, nephews, my step-siblings, in-laws–a dozen at least–were gathered around what would be his deathbed.
I won’t dwell on my feelings during the interminable delay before I could be there or the long night spent waiting for the inevitable. Instead I have something more important to relate. Something that encapsulates his life and what he meant to me in a nutshell.
He lapsed into final unconciousness moments after my arrival, but before he did he said one thing:
On seeing me enter the room he said, in an exasperated tone, “Are you still here?”
I was floored, of course, devastated. I thought I was too late. I thought that he had completely lost it and had no idea who I was.
But then he grinned the tiniest little grin and winked the most obvious stage-wink.
It was the last thing he ever did.
He had been told I was coming, and I can only guess that he held on just for that.
That was Dad.
I still don’t know whether to laugh or to cry, so I just do both.
Elvin Dwain “Ed” Manning
July 26, 1931–December 7, 2005
Rest In Peace