Quite unexpectedly one of my sons got a phone call from a hospital across the state. The person on the other end of the phone verified his name and double checked his birth date. Since we’re very leery of Identity theft, this particular son was very cautious but the person on the other end of the phone told him that they were from a specific hospital and that his father was in ICU. They verified my sons father’s name and birth date to him.
All the hospital knew was that he was found unconscious in his room and a roommate had called emergency personnel. He might have to have a leg amputated. However, he wasn’t breathing on his own and my son was the only living relative. They asked him to come and “pull the plug”.
He and his father weren’t close. His father was an alcoholic for decades and left us when Kaleb was only 3 years of age. Since that time he has only seen his father about four times and each time his father was drunk.
Over the years his anger has built up inside of him and he had asked his father to not call him when he’s drunk. To make matters more complicated, his father never called again after that request and it had been over 4 years since anyone had spoken to his father at all. Now an adult, he was faced with a monumental decision.
After he called his work and explained the situation to his boss making arrangements to leave first thing in the morning to go to his fathers bedside we planned his route. Unfortunately, at 12:45 a.m. his father was gone and he didn’t have the chance to see him alive again. I did have the presence of mind however, to have my son return the doctors call and ask to have the phone placed by his fathers ear. I then encouraged him to tell his father he loved him and would see him again one day. Within an hour of that call his father passed from this world.
Later that morning, he headed to the other side of the state to collect his fathers effects and sign some paperwork. He cleaned out his room in the boarding house and was stunned to find how sad he felt. Nothing could have prepared him for this experience. He and his best friend sat and talked for hours in his fathers room about how he felt.
Making arrangements for cremation was very emotional. He hadn’t expected to ever have to do something of this magnitude, nor did he know how. We walked through it together and stood by his side.
Kaleb found a great journal in his fathers belongings that talks almost non stop about him. This helped him to understand that alcoholism is a disease that robbed him of his father. It’s also helped my son to cope with having felt abandoned all those years growing up.
Kaleb has learned so much and is beginning to understand that his father was in fact protecting him from this dreaded disease. I encourage him to talk about his feelings when he feels comfortable doing so. We’ve read the journal together and discussed many parts of it.
Helping my son cope with this unexpected loss has been a growing experience for my entire family.