I wasn't there that morning
When my father passed away
I didn't get to tell him
All the things I had to say
I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
I'm sure I heard his echo
In my baby's new born tears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years
Mike and The Mechanics - The Living Years
My eyes still well up with tears when I hear "The Living Years." This song came out shortly after my father passed away. It's been over twenty-five years since I last said Happy Father's Day to my father. My dad died in 1989 at the age of 62, far too early for anyone. To this day, I think about my father often, but especially every Sunday afternoon. He would always call me at 4 o'clock on Sunday no matter where he was or what he was doing. We would catch up on what was happening in our lives with work and family.
His death wasn't totally unexpected, but it happened much sooner than anyone thought. I got the call that he was declining rapidly on a Saturday. We quickly packed and started to leave for Texas when I noticed the child-proof container of Tylenol with the lid off and on the floor. Some capsules were still in the container, but we had no idea how many were in there to start. Asked both girls if they took any, Jessica (age 7), "no;" Lauren (age 3), "no." Pamela grabbed the Poison Control number just in case and out the door we went.
About three hours into the trip, Lauren began throwing up, but she looked fine otherwise. We quickly called the Poison Control Center and they said to get her to the nearest hospital. Got there and blood work was drawn. The ED doctor said since she appears fine; go on your way, just call us in the morning and we'll give you the results. About two in the morning, we were exhausted and so much for driving straight through to Texas. We stopped at a hotel and decided to call the hospital just to see if they had the results. Got the ED doc on the phone, who said, "thank God you called; her levels are off the chart for acetaminophen poisoning. Get her to the nearest hospital as fast as you can.”
Long story short, Lauren ended up in ICU. I called my mother to let her know what happened and to check on my father. She said that he was just given Last Rites and continued, but if it means him dying to save Lauren, then so be it. Lauren responded almost immediately to the Mucomyst treatment and we were allowed to leave, provided we gave her the treatments and had blood work done upon arrival in Texas.
Got to Texas, checked into the hotel and called to see how my father was doing. He died that morning and as my mother says "so Lauren could live." To this day, I see a lot of my father in Lauren. That same wonderful sense of humor, a closeness to family, a great smile and that love of country.
So that's the challenge every time I hear "The Living Years." I wish I could have been there to tell him all the things that I had to say, but I continue to catch his spirit in Lauren and for a very good reason. After twenty five years, Happy Father's Day, Dad!