bird poops on plum branch


Buster Benson

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14 years ago...
me and kellianne
My father passed away from complications of a relapsed bout of lung cancer 14 years ago today.  I remember being called in from track and field practice with a call from my grandfather saying he was going to come pick me up because they thought my dad was not going to make it much longer.  He had been in the hospital approximately 3 months.  Fires were burning in southern California as they are now.  I was applying to colleges and thinking about moving away from home.  I had just recently become a Christian (which actually happened before I knew my father had cancer again).

My sister's 29th birthday was yesterday.  On October 29th, 1993, we were in the hospital and my father was barely conscious.  We exchanged words by him typing on a small calculator-sized computer screen.  I remember him asking how long he'd been in the hospital.  We said 3 months and he said that it seemed like he had been there for years, that he had lost track of time.  He knew he wasn't going to make it.  The doctors said he was the most peaceful and calm patient they had seen in a long long time.  He talked about a safe place he had found in his dreams that he went to for strength.  He asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I told him I would win the Nobel Peace Prize (something he had always wanted to do with his work in robotics).  At the time I was thinking of being a genetic biologist.  One of his last gestures was to have the nurses bring in a birthday cupcake for my sister for her birthday and he wished her a happy birthday.  He said he was holding on so that we would live past her 15th birthday and not ruin the day for her.

We each had time to talk to him while he was still conscious.  We all loved him so much.  I witnessed a conversation between my mom and him about their last romantic date that past summer... a Moody Blues concert (which we were playing in the hospital room as well).  Two out of his three sisters were able to fly in before he fell back into a coma later that night.  I talked to him long after he was in a coma, talked about all of my favorite memories with him, and how much I admired him my entire life.  He was the perfect father.  Around 2 or 3 AM I took a nap in the car in the hospital garage. 

Around 10am we were summoned in again because his blood pressure and heart rate were dropping.  We all witnessed the several hours long slow descent into that state of final rest.  I was amazed that there was never an off switch... it was just a slow drop in blood pressure, and heart rate, and eventually brain activity.  I don't know what else to say.  Now I'm crying at work.  Today I celebrate the memory of my father and the chance to live life to the fullest with friends and family. 

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even your story brought tears to my eyes. a loss such as this is impossible for me to even think about coping with, even though i know it's a reality that is coming soon......

I am thankful every day for your father. I think of him often and look forward to getting to know him better through your stories and stories from your family. I love you, and everything that made you who you are.

what a touching recollection of a tough/sad time. now *i'm* crying! you're lucky to have such fond memories of your father and he is lucky to have a kid like you who speaks so eloquently about him... <3.

I was at a funeral over the weekend for a very similar passing -- my oldest friend's father, who was 60, passed away 3 weeks after diagnosis with brain cancer. The funeral was superlatively sad and it's so hard to imagine going through what you and what she and her mom have experienced.

Your words are quite beautiful though.

i only saw your dad once. he came outside and scolded you for shooting a rubber band at me. that was when you were living on west yale loop near my grandma's house. i remember thinking he was a good guy because he saved me. :)

now i'm crying at work too. thanks for sharing.

That's sad, but also very uplifting to hear in a way. I'm glad that you gave us the chance to read that.

And you still have time to earn that Peace Prize.

I think it is serendipity that I randomly ran into you today and gave you a hug... otherwise I'd have to head up the hill to do it right now.

Here's another blog hug for you!

This is Kristy

Thank you for sharing that. Of course, it made me cry as well, but I'm thankful because your memories of that day are better than mine and it makes me feel more at peace to know that he was at peace. Even 14 years later, I can't think about him without crying and that's a good thing I think. He was the best father in the whole world, no one could ever compare. I am so thankful for him and the way he raised us. I was such a screw up that last year he was with us and I regret the choices I made back then. I realize now, as a parent, just how much stress I must have caused him and Mom. I just hope that he can see me now and be proud of me.

Re: This is Kristy

Oh come on, you weren't really that much of a screw up. He was a rebel child too, remember? I know that he was proud of you then and of course would be proud of you now. I'd love to know what you remember of those days... I know my memory is pretty selective too.

when i was in high school my boyfriend's dad died of cancer. your stories are very similar. it was a really hard time for all of us. i stayed at their house for a few days, we all slept on the floor of his mom and dad's bedroom so the family could all be close together.

well put, your dad sounds awesome.

thank you so much for sharing that. i'm crying - good thing i have my own office now. in judaism we call the anniversary of someone's death a yartzeit (maybe you already know this) and we light a candle in their memory. it is all very much about remembering their life and celebrating who that person was. it's one of the few jewish traditions that means something to me and it seems to match the way you are remembering your father...

what a beautiful recollection. i'm so sorry you lost your dad. too early.

Thanks for sharing that, Buster.


That was moving, to say the least.

Wow, I didn't know you'd gone through that. Another way in which we've led parallel lives I guess -- my dad died when I was in high school, but it was more sudden and less heartbreaking.

This was such a touching post Buster, thank you for sharing it with us

I'm sorry I'm so behind on LJ and it's sad to even comment on this because I'll bet you're feeling better by now but I wanted you to know this was heartbreaking to read, and I cried. My thoughts are with you.

You write so beautifully. What a wonderful way to honor a life well lived, and to give so many people a glimpse of what he was like. He sounds like an incredible person.

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