I’ve had an epiphany. In my relentless search for answers during this adoption journey I realized something tonight. It’s something that several people have told me. Yet it didn’t sink in until tonight when I was taking a long walk on the beach around midnight.
I realized this: I got what I wanted. For years I pushed and searched and whored myself to get some sort of absolution, validation, acceptance from my biological brother and my biological father. With my brother, I’ve pretty much received it—not on the level I want, but it’s there. Do we ever get things exactly as we want them?
Yet, with my bio father I realized I got it, too. And I got it right before he died.
During the drive up to B.C. for the Barbra Streisand concert, my father’s in-home caregiver, Brenda sent me a text telling me my father was hospitalized yet again for fluid on the lungs—a recurring malady. She had told my father, “Bob’s coming.” I had wanted it to be a surprise so I was a little irked but didn’t make a big deal out of it.
When I saw my father the next day in the hospital, he looked worse than I’d ever seen him. He kept widening his eyes when he looked at me as if he were trying to get me into focus. When I stroked his hair, he leaned his head back and relaxed. And at one point, he said, “Bob, please put flowers on my grave.”
I stayed with him for about ninety minutes before telling him I was going to the mall to get a bite to eat, but that I would be back. He seemed to understand and approve. After I had finished eating at the mall, the nurse called to tell me he was fading fast. He died before I got back and I was only five minutes away.
Now, this is the epiphany I received, with a little help from my friends:
My father waited for me to arrive before he let go. I’ve heard many times of people who were terminal who waited for someone to arrive. And then they let go. They felt they could go, that it was alright.
And I think my father waited until I left the hospital because he did not want me to witness his death. He was not a maudlin character. He wanted to die on his own terms. So many times he talked about wanting it “to be over”. One of his sons got to see him and he got to have family around. He didn’t die alone. And he waited until I was there to make sure I knew he wanted flowers on his grave—the same way I always placed them on my mother’s grave for years.
This revelation has been therapeutic for me. I feel I got the acceptance I was seeking, however nebulous. It took me awhile to figure it out because we seldom acknowledge when a prayer has been answered. I really believe this is true because many times answers arrive in a differently wrapped package than what we are expecting. But I do believe that he waited for me. And the irony is that I always knew I would be the last one to see him alive. I always knew that I would be the one who would consistently be checking on him and visiting him to help out.
The bastard child.