Two years ago today is the last time I saw my dad. He’d brought my grandma and my mom over here to Houston for their annual doctor’s appointments in the Medical Center. My mom had called me the night before and asked if I could meet them for lunch. I hesitated, and told her because of so many things going on at work, I probably wouldn’t be able to take off. The next morning on the drive into Houston, my dad called me at my office to let me know they were getting close, and again invited me to lunch. Once again, I hesitated, and told him that I was so busy I didn’t think I could make it. He said he understood, but that he’d love to see me if I could make it happen. Something told me to forget about work and go see my family. So, I did.
There’s a train that runs from downtown Houston to the Medical Center. I rode it to the hospital, and as soon as I got off the train, I saw my dad standing outside the doctor’s office smoking a cigarette. His face completely lit up as soon as he recognized me. He smiled and waved and seemed so happy to see me. It had been several months since I’d gotten to go home to Louisiana for a visit. As I approached him, he made some joke (as he always does) and we laughed and hugged. He made another joke about driving with both my mom and grandmother in the car — something we’d always joked about.
We went inside and had lunch at Miller’s Hamburgers in the hospital — it’s been one of our favorite places for many years. Lunch was great, the conversation was great — we laughed and had a great time together. My dad looked great and seemed like he was feeling great.
After lunch, he drove me back to my building, and the whole family came up to see my office and meet my co-workers. As usual, my dad charmed everyone with his incredible sense of humor. They spent a little time walking around my floor and visiting, then had to head back to Louisiana. I walked them back to the car, and hugged them all. As my dad was driving out of the garage, he waved and winked at me. I said, “I love you.”
Two days later, my died passed away in his sleep. He wasn’t old, he hadn’t been sick — I guess God just needed him in Heaven.
While my family has had a very hard time adjusting to life without him, I’ve heard other people say that they had such guilt when they lost their fathers, because they never got to express how much they loved their fathers. I am so fortunate that my dad knew how much I loved him, and I know how much he loved me. I’m not the best son, but he never failed to show me that he was proud of me.
For the rest of my life, I will be thankful that I met him for lunch on July 22, 2008. Thank you, God, for that perfect memory. I miss you, Daddy, and I love you.