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My Father’s Last Words

The nurses and I had just made him comfortable and morphine was kicking in. The nurse was hurried and impolite, she did not want me there at worst or in her way at best. I asked her with clear sarcasm in my voice, “Do you want me to leave?” The doctor told me he had only days, but I approved the morphine.

She said no, but then asked who I was. I said, “His son” she looked at me with incredulity. “Yes, his blood son.” I was used to such ignorance. I was young and dark, he was old and pale. And this I’ll tell you, ignorance takes no breaks and doesn’t even honor love, death, pain and mourning. But after Pop passed, I kissed his forehead and she apologized for being such a bitch. I could not have cared less, but I was polite.

At the very least his last words to me were ironic. Because whenever I checked him into the hospital he would say: “Go home, feed the cat and get some rest.” So on that night, I said, ‘I can go home and feed the cat if you want,” I wasn’t really wanting to believe that the end was near. A part of me asked, “Does one want to ‘go’ privately?” But he said calmly, knowingly and perhaps wanting me to stay: “You can stay if you want,” and so I did. I told him some things, words of gratitude and appreciation…and we looked at each other. I said to myself, I would not do what the little boy in me wanted to do, which was kick and scream…and yell at those who hastened the clock on us, Instead, I was neutral. I didn’t want him to worry. I was matter-of-fact about it all as I could be. I was just there, present. I asked for ice cream and they just happened to have his favorite, peach. So I fed him some…I reclined in my chair beside his bed, holding his arm, and after midnight on Memorial Day 2017, my father left the room and I woke up beside him shortly after that moment.

My father’s last words to me became somewhat a motto for me in my own life. “You can stay if you want,” And for those who could not be there for me, for him…and who could not mourn with me or understand. For the ignorant turned cruel, they are free to stay if they want, and they are also free to go their own way.

Edmund J. Janas,II

Because we may never see justice, I will tell our story.

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