Dying is easy, comedy is hard.

“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

Your dad rocks. Thanks for sharing this story; those who have passed live on in the actions and words of those who they touched in their lives. My dad died many years ago, and I know it’s tough, but how he greeted you is a real treasure.

Thanks, Ferret Herder, I just wish my words could convey just how rockin’ he really was. His sense of humor is legendary among those who knew him and I honestly believe that it was a big part of what kept him going for years after he was told he only had a few months to live.

My favorite memories are of those times I cracked him up.

I’ve got to go to bed now–I’ll check back in in the morning*. I guess I shouldn’t have started this thread right before bedtime*, but I suddenly felt it was time to finally get it off my chest.
*for me

Your dad sounds like a hell of a guy. I am sorry for your loss.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. It might not make a ton of sense to hear this, but the image of your father passing surrounded by so many of his loved ones actually makes me feel a little less afraid.to face my own death. We should all be so fortunate. I’m glad you got to have this final moment as well as a lifetime of happy memories.

Actually, olivesmarch4th, it makes perfect sense. I feel the same way.
I hope that when the time comes I can come up with some last words that will make an impression–and that there’s someone there to appreciate them!

(((Rich Mann)))

My thoughts and prayers are with your family, and I agree with the others–your dad sounds like one hell of a guy.

Your story brought tears to my eyes. I lost my Dad in 2003. I spent his last waking day with him. He seemed to be gaining and might even be released from the hospital. We talked about trivial things and he asked me what kind of life I lead.

I left his side to visit with friends and he slipped into a coma and died 6 days later.

I am sorry for your loss.

Wow. Now thats the way to go. His last act was to put a little more humor and joy into the world. Your father must have been quite a man.

What a great guy your dad must have been. Awesome last words.

What a beautiful story and rememberance for you and your family and friends.

Considering I just got off the phone from one of my 45 minute conversations with my 84 year old father who lives 1,200 miles away, well, it just makes it all that more special.

Thank you for sharing it.