My Father & the Symphony of Life

On death, translated…

A few minutes later, the workers flipped my father’s still limp body to the side, he was like a well-behaved child, asleep, not moving at all.

My father had never allowed anybody to do him like this ever, he’d been a serviceman his whole life, he was the forward when he was younger when he’d played basketball, before he’d retired from the army, he worked as a head of a certain department too, a very respected man by all, I suppose.

After he’d gotten out of the services, he’d started making his own way, volunteered for a Hakka magazine, and, when he was asked along, to perform the traditional Hakka skills, he’d gone, as he pleased, NEVER followed anybody’s requests………

But this time, it was, out of his hands, we saw how our father, whose body was weakened by the cancer cells, got lifted onto a gurney………

Pushed, toward the morgue………

Outside of the ICU, the doctor handed me several forms, said, my father was actually kept alive by the machines, that they’d needed the agreements from the families, in order to pull the plug on him, I, being his eldest son, if I agree, then, I should sign on the forms, later on, the medical staff would unplug him, and, allow his heart to stop on its own.

All of a sudden, I felt this heaviness on the pen that I was holding, it’d become, as heavy as a steel blade………

Like the judges of the ancient times, I’d imagined, that if I’d pushed the pen across the “verdict”, and, immediately, I will hear the sounds of sharpened cries from all around.

Every word I’d spoken to the medical staff was like coughing up blood for me, I’d pleaded to the paramedics: to up the dosage, but don’t do CPR on him, I feared, that his ribs may get broken, and my father who can’t speak anymore would have to weather through even more pains.

That was, passed the autumn season, into the winter of 2013.  The Northern Hemisphere was either covered with yellowed leaves, or covered in the first layers of snow.

On an afternoon in the bottom of November, I’d gotten an emergency call from overseas from my younger sister, said that my father’s heart had stopped in his sleep, and the nurses asked her if she wanted to keep him alive

Considering that she’d wanted me to see my father again, she’d signed the papers to resuscitate, which was very difficult for her to make.

And just like so, my father’s heart resumed beating again……

And, I’d immediately bought a non-transfer flight back to Taipei that very night, with the mindset of how the world is covered with the first layer of snow…

Knowing that that was, the last time I’d touched my father’s body, I’d known, that there was still, an old soul, hanging on, because he’d miss us, and I just wanted to feel the last heat from that soul, to this body, because, the snow had gotten thicker, and heavier!

My father had been troubled by gout for a very long time, from the year before, when he was diagnosed with fourth stage lung cancer, his gout came over, back then, there were stones, growing inside of the joints of both his hands, I’d rushed back to visit with him, other than eating his meals, he’d spent his entire days in bed.

Recalling once, as my father sat up, to change into clean underwear, he couldn’t lift his arms up, so the clothes could fit onto him, he’d sighed, “There’s nothing I can do.”

As I’d helped him, I’d consoled with him, “You’re no longer young anymore, dad!”

Actually, I felt very fake, my father’s getting weakened, was the result of the attacks of his cancer cells and his gout combined!

If taking away the cancer and the gout, my father is pretty healthy, he’s already eighty years old, and was still reporting the news for the Hakka magazines, I saw him several times, with a camera in front of him, with a notebook in hand, riding to the place where he was interviewing someone, looked like he was really enjoying himself, and, his son who works in the reporting industry, I just couldn’t say anything, he’d told me proudly several times, “my reporting abilities don’t pale by comparison to you, younger generations at all.”

I’d smiled and nodded, “You get better with time!”

He’d smiled, and gloated even more, “Must have been all the running on the courts when I was younger!”

At the start of this year, my gout started, the doctor saw how my right elbow swelled up like a volleyball, he’d managed to drain a lot of yellow fluid from my joints, and found that my white blood count was over, worried I might be infected, and didn’t know if I had a bone fracture, so, he’d done a complete CT scan on me.

And, it was, a white elderly person who was in front of me.

Because I only had to get my one arm scanned, it was over very quickly.

As I came out, I saw the white elderly man lying in the bed, waiting for the staff to finish filling out his forms, then push him back to his room.  I’d needed to wait for my results from the CT scan, and so, I sat down next to him, and struck up a conversation with him.

I’d asked him, what he had?

“Cancer of the larynx!”, he’d replied in a light voice

“Oh!”, I’d become stumped, didn’t DARE ask him for the stage.

Then, I’d asked him, “How old are you?”

“Eighty-one.”

“Are you scared?”, I thought, at his age, he’s probably not afraid of dying.

“Yes!”, his voice was shaking, which shocked me, “I love life very much, I fear leaving those I love behind.  If cancer is only painful to me, and I won’t die from it, then, I’m more than willing to put up with it, because, I love this world way too much, I can’t let go of my loved ones, those whom I love and love me.”

A very good friend of mine, fell ill, and started going in and out of the hospitals a lot.

The very first night he was admitted, his heartrate and pulse had stopped, for over twenty minutes, and was found by the orderly who was checking the rooms, they’d performed emergency resuscitation on him, and he didn’t die.

That day, I’d gone to the hospital to visit with him, and we’d held a very lighthearted conversation.

I was very curious of the time his heart had stopped for around half an hour, I’d asked him, if he’d had the near-death experiences like in the movies, seeing how his life flashed before his eyes, how his deceased loved ones smiled at him, and a lighted path………

He shook his head, smiled and told me, “It was like I was in a deep sleep, no feelings at all.  When I woke up, I saw the doctors and my wife by my side.”

“So, that was, a sort of an outer body experience?”

He’d nodded:

I know, that if I’d died, I will bring so much pains to my loved ones.  But, in that condition, it’s just, no joy, no sorrow, no ecstasies, no worries……then………life, had finished, one more cycle.

My father’s body and his coffin were, pushed in, and we stood outside the walls, hearing the fires roar, like hearing the fourth movement of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, silently, stared at the black smoke outside the chimney, coming out, rushing, toward the skies.

I saw, my father, smiling at us, through the rising of the smokes, it though……

And, it was like, I didn’t, see anything, at all!

And so, this, is someone’s final passage of life, to the moment that he’d died, and, the families are still the ones, left with the pieces to pick up.

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Filed under Awareness, Family Matters, Life, Loss, On Death & Dying, Perspectives, Properties of Life

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