I arrived at the hospital where my Father lay dying. Nurses prepared me to enter his room by telling me that he would not respond to me in any way. With a heavy heart I donned the gown and mask to enter his room along with a breathing specialist.
Dad had been bald since my early childhood, and when I matured into a snotty young woman, I began teasing my Father about spit-shining his head. So without anything else to say to my dad when I walked into his room, I said, "time for your spit-shine and there is nothing you can do abut it," and my Dad opened his eyes and said, "not even now, girl."
Dad remained awake while the breathing treatment was taking place, and he responded to what I said. As the breathing specialist left the room, Dad asked "am I dying?" Before I could answer doctors and nurses filled his room to witness the "miracle" return from death's door, and I was ushered from the room.
Upon returning to my Dad, and alone again he asked if he was dying, and I told him his truth and asked him if he was frightened. He said that he was, and I instantly had a new idea.
I told Dad that if he was frightened that I would walk with him to the light. I told Dad that if I believed it was possible to walk with him to the light and he would believe it was possible for me to walk with him to the light that maybe I could walk with him to the light. I asked Dad if he would like to try, and after several moments of silence, Dad agreed.
Being at Death's door, as my Father was, is a slow and cumbersome return to the world of the living, and Dad would rest often, then return to me to look deep into my eyes and say a few words. I stayed with my Dad throughout the night, and sat by his bed. When Dad would rest I would also close my eyes with my head on his chest and rest with him. When he would stir back to consciousness I would waken with him.
Through the night I woke and slept as my Father woke and slept. In the wee hours of the morning, after having talked to Dad about not fearing death we closed our eyes, and this time I felt my self standing in a dark void with my father on my left side, and some unknown being to my right. Off at a great distance from the darkness of the void came a pin prick of bright light which startled me and I opened my eyes to find my self staring into my Father's opened eyes, and I asked "did you just see that, to which he nodded that he had seen what I saw, and to affirm I asked what he saw, and he replied "a light."
Morning came and my step-mother replaced me at my Father's side without knowing my Father lay behind her conscious, she began saying some awful things to me about my dad, and rather than add to stress to an already stressful situation, is said nothing at all, but kept watching my Father's eyes as his wife talked. She turned and saw my Father awake and blanched. I kissed my Father good-bye promising to return that night after I had a sitter for the kids.
After a few hours of rest and a sitter for the kids, I returned to my Father's side for another night by his side. To the amazement of his doctors my Father returned from death's door and continued to hold on. Throughout the second night, when my Father would rest, I too would close my eyes to rest with him.
Almost every time we closed our eyes to rest together we would see the pin prick of light at a distance, but each time closer than the last time, and my Father began to be more comfortable with the void, the light, and this unknown being there with us standing in the void.
Within 72-hours I had my Father transferred from the Hospital in Tampa to a Nursing Home in Zephyrhills closer to his children and grandchildren. His sisters came in from Georgia and his room was full for the next 48-hours.
I stayed full time with my Father in the Nursing Home and my teenage daughter stayed with me the first night.
During the night, my daughter watched the ritual my Father and I created of talking and resting together with my head resting on his chest. She and I took a break in the early hours and took a walk outside in the night air. With a great concern, my daughter asked one very important question of me.
How can Granddaddy understand you when he is sleeping? She explained that she watched me moving my lips to my father while his eyes were closed, and no sound came from my lips, yet by reading my lips she understood most of what I said, but she asked how it was that her sleeping Grandfather also understood well enough to answer me with the appropriate yes or no response. I had no other words to tell her so I told her what was going on, and we returned to Dad's side.
Again we went into our then usual routine of talking briefly then resting together with my head on his chest. Very soon after taking a break with my daughter, my Dad and I closed our eyes to rest and again returned to the light, but almost nothing was the same as it had been.
I stood in the same void with my Father on my left and an unknown on my right. Until this particular rest period, I did not visually see my Father standing on my left and the light had been at a distance, but this time the light was upon us brilliant and there. Dad stepped from my left side into my range of vision and stepped into the light.
I watched as my Father moved away from my side into the light. He stepped into the outer perimeter of the light and looked into its depth for a few seconds then turned to face me and as he smiled he raised his arthritic arms high above his head and beamed with the greatest joy I had ever seen on his face. And as quick as this the void was gone and I found myself staring into my Father's eyes.The next day, September 27, 1999 we moved my Father home so he could die at home with the love of his children and grandchildren surrounding him. As much as I wanted to return with my Father to the light the experience did not happen again and on October 5, 1999 Dad walked into the light without me.