My father, my hero growing up and not a day goes by that I don't think about him and miss him dearly.
He was just 17 years old when he married my 18 year old mother. I can't even imagine getting married that young.....they went on to have/raise 7 children. (I'm the youngest. The oldest is a girl then five boys and then me).
I was sixteen years old. It was Easter in 1987 and the whole family was together - which is rare for our family - some siblings live out of state. It was a great time and I missed my sister and brothers.
Sometime in the middle of the night, I was awakened by screams. Mom is screaming for me to call 9-1-1! For a split second, I think someone has broken into our house and then I realize it's Dad, something is wrong with Dad.
I get out of bed, run to the phone and dial 9-1-1 - the 9-1-1 operator answered and I told her I needed an ambulance. She told me that my mom had just called and help was on the way. Then I hear my mom screaming for me to help her, I tell the 9-1-1 operator that mom is calling for me, she tells me to set the phone down not to hang up. I run into their bedroom and she yells "Help me move him!". I stare at my Dad's lifeless body, his eyes and mouth are partially open. She yells again "Help me move him!"
I heard her the first time but couldn't move - the second time I respond by grabbing his legs as she grabs his shoulders. As I get him to the side of the bed, I underestimate how heavy he would be and he slips out of my hands and on to the floor. I quickly grab his legs again and drag him to the living room. As soon as my hands come off his legs, the fire department is in the house and I get out of the way.
I go to my room, they have moved Dad to the kitchen and begin trying to resucitate him. I feel like I'm in a dream. I don't cry. I don't do anything but listen to the men working on my father. I see them take Dad past my room on a stretcher. I hear a loud wheeze and and an EMS yells "turn that off". I later find out that they had punctured one of Dad's lungs as they tried to bring him back.
I'm at the hospital in a white, cold room. My sister, my brothers and my mom are there. Dad is in the center of the room on a stretcher with only a sheet on. A priest gives him his last rites. I turn to face the wall and begin banging my head on the wall. I feel hands on me, I push them off and move away from them. I hear my mom, kiss your Dad goodbye. I can't - he's dead - I can't.
After the funeral, I remember her words.....I'm about 5 years old and she (Mom) tells me to go and tell Dad to quit smoking and drinking so he'll be here to walk me down the isle.
I got married in 1994 and my oldest brother walked me down the isle.
Dad - I love you and think about you every day.