Saturday, October 11, 2008

On To a Better Life

On Thursday, 9 October 2008 at 6:30am, my cell phone rang. I knew in my heart this wasn't going to be an ordinary call. No "good" calls come early in the morning. Indeed, this call was not a good one. It was my mother-in-law. It's time to try to get Riley, my beloved husband, home from Iraq as soon as possible. The hospice nurse believed dad had less than 48 hours left.

Red Cross was contacted by 7am - information relayed as best I knew. A call was placed to Riley's unit - Riley was contacted and the cell phone was ringing off and on for the next five hours. Riley's stateside company was called .... phones were buzzing all over the world to get Riley on a plane home. I decided I would leave early Friday morning. That plan was quickly cancelled. At 4:30pm, the call came through from one of Riley's brothers. Dad was gone. By 5pm, our son & I were on our way to Wellington, with a quick stop in a suburb of Columbus to our daughter's & son-in-law's home. Daughter quickly packed up her things....jumped in the car with me, son-in-law followed with their daughter in their car.

The drive up there was somber - yet, we recalled a few humorous dad/grandpa incidents. Riley was on his way home - not knowing his dad had already passed. Sobering thought.

The night was spent with phone calls - lots of phone calls and people stopping by. Around noon, my cell phone rang - it was Riley. He had made it to the Chicago airport - next stop was Cleveland. All I could do was to say quietly, "Dad is gone". There aren't too many words that one can say that will have such an impact. The man who taught you so many things about how to work with others is gone. The man who you loved so very much is gone. The man who has been your father for your entire life is gone. The man who worried more about mom being taken care of more than his own pain - is gone.

And I am filled with emotion. My dearly beloved husband is home again - yet, not for the reason I ever thought would happen. Yes, our dad has been ill for quite some time. Emphysema is a taker of lives - just as bad as cancer devastates one's life. But I knew in my heart that dad wouldn't go as quickly as others believed. We had such a scare almost two years ago. We quickly gathered up and drove to see him in the hospital. And yet - a year later, he was with us. One year turned into 14 months - then 15 months....and finally, no more time.

Visitation times have been set for Sunday - 12 October 2008 from 2-5pm. The service is set for Monday, 13 October 2008 at 11am.

Yes, dad is gone. But the memory of him will never be gone. He has left behind a legacy not many can ever boast of. The friends he has left behind aren't just friends - they're family. I believe there's not a single soul who hasn't met Claude & Docie Louise Driver for the first time that didn't leave feeling they have become part of the Driver family. Yes, it will be very hard for mom to carry on without him. But her strength will pull her through this - along with the incredible group of people who are simply "family". What a legacy.


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