I'm not a big fan of oversharing family stuff, but my dad had been in the hospital for about a week, and last Monday, when he had been expected to move to a rehab facility, he died instead.
The dying part was somewhat unexpected, but then again, not really. His body was just plain worn out, and everything shut down at once. I guess you could call it "natural causes."
So that was last Monday. The rest of the week was phone calls, the funeral and what can only be described as "shiva lite." It's no secret that our family isn't particularly religious so when people gathered at my family's house it was more of a "remembering Bob party" with lots of fond memories.
And food -- yikes! the food. It’s mind boggling how much food comes into a house after the death of a loved one. I was chasing people down in our driveway, handing them bags of cookies before they left.
Perhaps it was the morphine talking, perhaps it was the fact that he wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything at the time, but he was a big fan of pizza -- the sloppier the better. So naturally my sister and I knew that we had to make pizza a part of the spread. The school where my sister works generously sent over an order of baked ziti, garlic bread, salad and eggplant parm the next night and a huge order of food from a local deli on Friday, the day of the funeral.
People used to call my dad a “foodie,” but, really, he just loved food. What some people didn’t know about him was that when we were little kids, he weighed a lot more than he did in his later years – a lot more.
What finally took the weight off was something I wouldn’t wish on anyone – he went through a grueling bout of throat cancer in 2000, and the ensuing chemo and radiation left his mouth and throat a war zone, so eating just didn’t hold that thrill for him any more.
His mouth and throat got better over the years, but he kept that weight off (over 100 pounds) and was extremely proud of that feat, adding more walks and more big salads to his daily life.
Even the last time we visited him in the hospital – two days before he died – he looked up on the whiteboard and said “You should see how much weight I lost.” My sister and I jokingly remarked to him that the feeding tube he was fitted with was the height of diet chic – a doctor in Miami was hawking a feeding tube diet to rich women who wanted to take off weight in a hurry.
My dad – always looking for a miracle diet. I remember when I was in middle school taking a sip of his liquid protein diet drink – a viscous, cherry-flavored nightmare.
I know his weight seems a totally inappropriate way to remember him but believe me, you didn’t know my dad. He was thrilled that he finally got to a healthy weight.
And because of that, I’m promising my dad that I will get to a healthy weight, too.