Lloyd E Mitchell, 10 Years Later

My dad passed away 10 years ago on June 16th, 2002, at 4:45PM; it was Father’s Day and he was 70 years old. It was also the last day of a family reunion his side of the family was having somewhere; I can’t even remember where it was. It was a pivotal moment in my life, so much so that just writing this little bit and seeing his picture almost makes me want to cry now. When this post goes live I won’t be here; I’ll be at the cemetery where he lays, and I’ll be thanking him once again for the years I got to spend with him and what he tried to impart on me.

For my dad’s funeral, I wrote a tribute, which I had read on that day and which still sits on my main business page to the bottom right. To this day, just under 10 years (since I didn’t add it to the site until a couple of weeks after the funeral), it’s still the most visited page on my site every month. To me, that’s a second tribute to him and to fathers in general; it seems to touch a lot of people in some way.

What I’ve never talked about is that final day and what led up to it. I don’t want to make this morbid and depressing, but there were some things that happened on that day that have stuck with me, and I figure that I want to talk about them now.

The first thing to mention is that Dad had cancer, lung cancer, that had spread to his brain and other areas of his body. He was in pain for the last 4 months of his life. He also had renal failure, and had been doing dialysis every day for over a year. Dad smoked for more than 30 years, but he was also exposed to Agent Orange while in Vietnam; terrible combination.

Dad had said very few things that were cognizant over the last 4 months of his life. He came out of it one night when I was having an argument with a cousin of mine to defend me, then went back into a netherworld state. He came out of it for about 5 minutes when a congressman he used to do some work for and a couple other people came to visit him; that was amazing.

And he came out of it when I forced his doctor to come to the house to visit him at least once, and it’s a good thing I wasn’t there that day. They started talking and, according to my mother, 5 minutes into the conversation the doctor asked my dad how he wanted to live out his remaining days; Dad never talked again after that.

Until the day he passed away, and once again I missed it. I was in the shower. My wife and I had come up to visit Dad for Father’s Day and I’d just awakened and went for a quick shower. My wife went downstairs and Dad greeted her, and supposedly was talking to both my wife and mother. Then suddenly he started having problems breathing. My wife yelled up to me as I was drying and I came downstairs, looked at him, and told Mom to call 911. They were there within 10 minutes, hooked him up, and took him to the hospital. I knew he was never coming back to the house and for the first time in almost 34 years I cried.

It was tough in the hospital emergency room that day. I wouldn’t cry in front of Dad so I kept going out into the lobby or out to the car to cry. Mom called for some help, people who worked at her church, and they did what they could for us. I talked to Mom and said Dad couldn’t come back home, and we started talking about a nursing home for him, as Mom had made herself sick by trying to take care of him. My wife knew, but I didn’t; Dad wasn’t leaving the hospital alive that day, but I still had my hopes up.

Throughout the day, I had heard other people crying and screaming as some of their loved ones didn’t make it. I had some fears, but never thought it would go that direction. They put something on Dad to help him breathe, and he kept trying to take it off. I kept asking him to keep it on, but I wasn’t totally sure he understood me. But he did look at me. I took multiple opportunities to tell him I loved him, and to thank him for everything he did for me and Mom in my life.

But it wasn’t meant to be, and the emergency room doctor taking care of Dad came into the lobby to tell us to hurry, that unfortunately it wouldn’t be much longer. Two minutes later, Dad stopped breathing, his eyes still open, and I marked the time and cried.

And cried, and cried, and cried. After about 30 minutes I went to the car and started calling a few people. I was able to reach a relative finally to give them the news. This was weird; they already knew. Seems that just as the reunion was ending a young cousin, no one ever told me which one, suddenly said that Uncle Lloyd had died. And they believed the child, but were just waiting for the phone confirmation. The other strange thing is that his twin brother didn’t know; they’d always had a strong bond but in this case it didn’t happen.

That was that. On that day I had to grow up some. I had to call to help make funeral arrangements. I had to contact everyone. I had to cry with Mom. I had to go home the next day to get more clothes so I could stay with Mom. I had to decide that Dad was going to be buried in his uniform, and I had to let the military know so he could have the military show up to do the color guard ceremony, which comes with a 21-gun salute.

And, if anyone needs to know why I keep going every day, why I keep trying to become successful, why I feel the need to try to be a positive example… this is why.

On this day before Father’s Day I hope you take the opportunity to thank your father for everything and to tell him you love him. This is something I didn’t start doing with my parents until the last couple of years of his life, because we weren’t a demonstrative family; I wish I could take that back all the time. Also, be sure to tell your mother you love her as well; we don’t have our parents for long once we’re adults; at least it never seems long enough.

16 thoughts on “Lloyd E Mitchell, 10 Years Later”

  1. I know that your dad was always proud of you. You continue to live your life in a way that would make him proud today. That my friend, is success.

    Your dad was a cool cat. (A phrase that I always associate with him). This is truly a fitting Fathers Day tribute.

    1. Thanks Chuck, and you’re right, that is something he would have said. I’m certainly working hard at trying to live up to the belief he had in me; not quite there yet, but I haven’t given up. Have a great Father’s Day.

  2. Another nice tribute to a man who seems to have left a mark on many people throughout his life Mitch.

    My father is 81 years old and has had a few medical emergencies but he continues to battle on. My brother and I visit our parents every Thursday. We take them shopping, as dad no longer drives because his diabetes has rendered him legally blind, and do whatever od jobs needs to be done.

    We then sit down to a lovely home cooked lunch and dad talks to us about stories of his youth. Many are repetitive but we’re attentive just the same because we love the joy we see on his face as he talks to us.

    Once again, a great tribute.

    1. Thanks Sire; he wasn’t a perfect man, but then again who is? But great… absolutely! I’m glad you get to have time with your parents, and man, I wish I was hearing stories these days.

      1. In a way you do Mitch. It’s what inspired this post, memories of your dad and the stories he used to tell. Not as good as actually having him there but it’s still something to cherish.

  3. I never met your dad, but I bet I would have liked him. Your tribute was very moving.

    1. Thanks Steve. One thing he used to do was drive a group of us around for a traveling bowling league in high school. How many fathers would do that back then? 🙂

  4. My son’s relationship with me is wonderful Mitch and he can hug me and tell me that he loves me. He does it often. My relationship with my father is not quite the same. I would find it extremely difficult to hug him and tell him that I love him. In fact, I simply cannot because both will be lies.

    You are fortunate and I congratulate you on that.

  5. What a very touching tribute to your Dad Mitch. I had no idea he passed away on Father’s Day. Bless your heart.

    I was crying as I read this because unfortunately, I know what you went through. Next February my Dad will be gone ten years and I don’t know if I have that story in me. It’s still very hard for me to share with people who didn’t know what happened.

    Losing a father is never easy. I’m glad you were there with him though and you KNOW he’s very proud of you.

    Thank you for sharing this with us Mitch. I’m sure that took a lot.

    God Bless Mitch!


    1. Thanks Adrienne. In a strange way writing it was somewhat cathartic, and going to visit him yesterday helped as well. Every year I’ve gotten depressed around this time, and at a certain point I just have to get into the mindset that it was great while he was around and that he’s still always around in spirit, anniversary or not.

  6. Back in my home country, there is a Mother’s day and there isn’t a Father’s day listed in holidays calendar. Well, I live abroad for many years, so I also celebrate the holiday. Not as quite as it should be, but yesterday we had a BoIP (beer over IP) call with my father and we spend several hours talking about many things. I also celebrated with my son, instead of buying him toys, I used a broken one to make few basic robots for him and we had a good time together.

  7. My father died on Mother’s Day, 1984. He, too, smoked for most of his life. Emphysema eventually caught up with him and left him unable to breathe, and largely incoherent during his final weeks. Losing a parent is always difficult, but especially so when they’re in pain, or when the person we’d always known no longer seems to be there. I’m sure your Dad would be proud of all you’ve accomplished, Mitch. This post is a beautiful tribute to him — and to you.

    1. Thanks Charles. Actually, I’d hope it would be proud, but I think he’d be more proud of the earlier part of my career than the last few years, which is something I’m working on changing. It’s something when we lose someone on a holiday of any kind, isn’t it?

  8. Mitch, while I can’t know exactly what you went through, I went through similar things when Pop and Mom died. I almost never cry, but I cried for over an hour about a week after Pop died, when I was mowing the lawn at his house. I could see him in my mind doing the yard work and taking care of their home.

    I’m crying right now, in a mix of empathy with you and remembrance of Pop.

    Thanks for writing this. It is a powerful story.

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