August 14, 2001 is a day I’ll never forget. It is the day I sat in the ICU and watched my dad die. I’m not good at doing nothing, so I gave myself the job of pushing the button that gave him pain medication every fifteen minutes, which was how often he was allowed another dose I watched the time between his breaths become longer and longer until we realized that he wasn’t going to breathe again. He was 54, I was 23.
I wish that day wasn’t the day so ingrained in my mind. My dad, unconscious in a hospital bed, isn’t the image of my dad I want to remember. That wasn’t my dad. Looking at him during the visitation didn’t bother me because that wasn’t my dad. I could just tell he was gone. His spirit wasn’t there. I just knew.
I want to remember my dad doing something. All the time. He wasn’t a talker, he was a do-er.
I want to remember my dad who farmed. The one who worked on the fairground and loved to fix and build things.
I want to remember him with black hair, and big, metal framed glasses that were so out of style yet so right for him.
I want to remember him in his Amoco uniform and running out to meet him when we heard his work truck drive up.
I want to remember the smile that took over his face and how he always kissed my mom before he left for work and called her every night when he was away on a trip.
I want to remember the one time the two of us went out for dinner together when I was in college. How he rolled his eyes when I showed him my new piercing. Or when we sat outside that same summer and he told me that I was the one that would move far away and marry a pastor and I laughed at the thought.
I want to remember the dad that sang with the church choir.
I want to remember his faith. I trust, completely and without a doubt that he is heaven. He clung to his faith. He had hope. Outwardly he was wasting away but inwardly he was being renewed day by day.
My kids are wise beyond their years. When my son was five, I was telling him that August 14 was the day Grandpa Hasty went to heaven. My son looked at me and said “We should celebrate. I miss him but I’m glad he’s not hurting anymore.”
I want to remember that too.