My father is dying and I feel as if I’m in a revolving door. Sometimes it feels like a roller coaster. To quote Lester Carter, “Life goes on, and then it doesn’t.”
Webster Marlowe is my biological father and the man who taught me to fly. He instilled in me a sense of duty to my community and a desire to make the world a better place, in whatever way I can. He was a pioneer in the plastics industry and this afforded us privileges that none of my friends enjoyed. On Saturdays, he would drive me to my music lessons and my horseback riding lessons, then we would go flying. We would come home in time for dinner, usually hot dogs at my granny’s on Saturday nights.
I will never forget Daddy picking me up at one of my dance classes, driving a brand new Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible. I was 15 years old and had taken two buses to get to dance. This was my daily routine. I would ride the school bus to the county line, then take the city bus to the Ray Hollingsworth School of Dance. Usually my mom picked me up, but this day Daddy picked me up in the most gorgeous car, everything I dreamed of in a new car. The main thing was it was NOT a station wagon. Daddy’s company cars were always station wagons. He tried to tell me this was just a loaner, and his new station wagon would be here the next day. I knew better; Daddy loved this car as much as I did. I would get my first car the next year, when I turned 16, but it would be a Dodge Dart. The Demon. Seriously. Daddy said I needed a car with a warning on the side and a model named for me. He always had a great sense of humor. I was loved, every day of my life.
About a month ago, my dad fell and was life-flighted to Orange Park Medical Center. We drove down to Jacksonville and I found him in ICU, on a ventilator and not responding. He responded to me, though, and he seemed better the next day. Still, I knew it wouldn’t be long but I was optimistic. We said goodbye and drove home. I thought he would be okay, but on Tuesday, the nurse called and said he was being moved to inpatient hospice with an expectation of just a few days. We drove down. The day I had to say goodbye and go home, Daddy said this would probably be the last time. I cried all the way home.
Now he’s rallied, but I know it is temporary. He met with the funeral home this week. I’m spending as much time as possible with him, but it is time to go home. I don’t know whether he will be here when we get back. Will the next time we return to Palatka be for his funeral?
I have said final goodbyes to him on three separate times. Knowing his death is inevitable doesn’t make it any easier. He’s been a great dad. He’s loved me at my best and he’s loved me at my worst. We’ve argued and he has infuriated me as much as I’ve infuriated him, but through it all, he’s been my dad, one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever known.
I’m just not ready.