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The last days of Larry Dean

My final days with my father, before he passed on

By Jennisea RedfieldPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 8 min read
The last days of Larry Dean
Photo by Arto Marttinen on Unsplash

For the first time in a long time, I felt joy. My father, who resided at Seattle hospital, due to some negligence on Missoula Community Hospital, and a stupid nurse, resided there for five months. Thanksgiving was two weeks away, and all my brothers, all 13 of them, were sharing the joy alongside me.

He had to stay at the Village care home, which was only a block away from the very hospital that caused his heavily felt absence. He sent us a picture over the phone, smiling as waving, three sizes smaller than when he left, attached to many wires and surrounded by so much whiteness, but he was alive.

I both love that picture and hate it.

He called the house, with all of us crowding around the phone to talk to him.

“Jenn! Jenn! Dad wants to talk to you!” one of my brothers crowed.

“I’ll call him back! I have to leave.” I shouted, running out the door to head for work. I was so ecstatic that he was coming home, I could barely contain the energy of the joy that ran through me. God, I was happy, so happy.

I regretted that one moment to this day. I should have called him back.

The next morning our mother called, her rough voice even rougher from crying.

“Larry’s back in the hospital. He aspirated on his meds.” she cried. I didn’t know what “aspiration” was. So, I had to look it up.

It was the scientific word for choked. My father choked on his medication.

“Is he okay?” I asked as a weight began to form in my stomach.

“No, he had a heart attack! We are at St. Patrick’s right now; the doctors are working on him right now. Please, don’t tell your brothers just yet. I want to tell them when I get home.” she muttered.

“I won’t tell them. But mom...will he be okay?” I asked, yet I knew the answer.

“This might be it.” I didn’t need any more information.

My father wasn’t really my father. At least not by birth. He was actually my Great-Uncle. My grandmother’s younger brother by a year. My mother was my aunt, a stout yet fierce woman who is not afraid of shit. Larry, my father, took in my younger brothers and me when my mom fell through.

He was a large man. And when I say large, I mean Large. Standing height, he was 6 feet and 3 inches tall. Comically, my mother was 5’3. He was 400 pounds, with a large belly and a long white beard. Blue eyes the same shade of gunmetal, and a red nose. And I know that I am describing him like he was Santa Claus. In fact, he used to volunteer at the children’s center in the two hospitals in town, laughing and being Santa. Some kids would see him around town and approach him. He was so kind. Loud and creative with his swears, but a kind man. And not a day goes by that I see something that reminds me of him.

When in Seattle, my father suffered two heart attacks, a STAPH infection, shingles, and one bout of pneumonia. His bowel became twisted after falling once, which is why he was in Seattle. All the pain he went through, all the surgeries and all the drugs, and when he finally came back to us, he was gone.

When I arrived at the hospital, along with my younger brothers, I saw several of my older brothers with their daughters, crying. I saw my older brother, a decorated Marine, crying. I saw my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, all those I see on a regular basis. They were all crying, circling my mother, whom I had never seen in such disarray. I sat down next to her, letting my aunt, her sister, move to comfort my little brothers. Fuck, two of them weren’t even in high school yet.

“How is he? Where is he?” I asked. Mom gently held my hands, still with tears running down her face.

“He had another heart attack, and now he is on Life support.” she whispered, making sure my brothers were spared from the information.

“Dad’s gone, isn’t he?” I whispered back.

“His heart is beating, but there is no brain activity. I'm gathering everybody up to say goodbye,” she replied.

“Can I see him?” I asked. My mom wiped her face and nodded.

“Yeah, He would love to see his baby girl.” I helped her up to her feet, noticing she was shaking in place. Her hair was greasy, tangled, and carrying more grey hair than when she left. Holding my hand, she led me to the room.

Inside the room was dark, the shades drawn as if the light may bother my “resting” father. He was laid out straight, arms to his side, and many bruises covering his arms from IV drips. His eyes were closed, his face a faint purple. And I can feel no warmth in the room.




It took me a few seconds to realize I couldn’t hear any natural breathing coming from my father. It was the machine to his right. The Life Support.

A wave of grief overrode me, and I had to leave. I shook off my mother’s hand and ran.

I ran out of the ICU, not caring that my brothers were crying for me, or that my cousins tried to follow me. I just kept on running.

When I finally stopped, I stood in front of the one wood and plaster statue on the fourth floor. It was a woman. The paint was chipped, and plaster was peaking out from where her shawl covered her supposed hair.

Mary. It was Mary.

I am not a religious person. In fact, I hate religion. It is a sham. But I know all the figures, the legends and stories. And for some reason, I looked at her, her faded paint form, and I could smell Fish Creek. I could smell clay and pine, wood smoke, and cicily. But with this specific smell, I knew who it belonged to.

“Daddy?” I whispered, hoping that what I just saw, one floor up, was nothing but a horrible dream. I turned around, looking, a blossom of hope forming in my chest. But there was no one. I gave the statue one last look and went back on walking.

I kept on walking, aiming for outside and running to the nearby park to cry in peace. But something stopped me. Looking up, I saw pale green glass, with a singular cross in pale white glass.

I was in front of the chapel.

I haven’t stepped in a church in years, same with touching a bible. After getting kicked out of three churches, I stopped attending. After some other traumas, I tossed away my Bibles. But the chapel, empty and cold, drew me in.

As I figured, It was empty. In fact, there was barely any light entering through the faint, multicolored, flowery-scented windows, and dust drifting in the faint light that was inside. I was drained, and sat down at one pew, bowing my head and started praying.

“Please. I know it's a long shot if you can hear me. Hell, you never seemed to care. But I ask you, if you help my father, I will attend church again. If you help him, I will join a fucking covenant, devoting myself to you. Please, please don’t take my daddy. My brothers need him. I need him.” I whispered, tears trailing down my face. I repeated that paragraph over and over and over. Before long, two hours had passed. When I left, I felt nothing, I was numb.

Over the next three days, I drifted in and out of the hospital, holding my father’s cold, white hand, heading down to the chapel to pray, and even placing a kiss on the statue every time I passed her. I started to grow used to the bitter taste of black coffee and even started stopping to get food for my mother and aunts. My little brothers had school, so I left long enough to go tend to them after and bring them over.

But my dad never recovered. The hard sound of the life support system was the only one, along with numerous beeping tones.

After three days, monotonous, Mom gathered everyone once more.

“It’s time. It’s time to let him go.” She stated. My brothers fell down to the ground crying. Hell, we are were. Even as I write this I am crying.

We all stood around the bed, 13 sons, two daughters, four aunts, both my mothers, and my grandmother. We watched as a nurse came in, she herself was crying in sympathy and slowly undid all the little stickers and scanners, leaving that fucking life support on for last, along with the heart monitor.

Once she undid the life support, we waited.

It only takes three minutes for the human body to die without oxygen. And in those three minutes, my brothers left. My mothers left, and everyone else followed in distraught. Except me. I stood alone in that room.

I watched as the heart monitor went a little spastic from my dad’s heart struggling and trying to stay beating. I watched as the beats got longer and longer. And when the flatline tone started, then I cried.

On November 16th, 2014, my father passed away, with me as his only witness. And I never prayed again.

So, if you have the chance, don’t forget to call your family back. Don’t forget to say I love you to them. Because I can tell you this: that will end up being your biggest regret that will follow you everywhere.


About the Creator

Jennisea Redfield

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  • Amelia Misty StandingRock21 days ago

    I still need him too, speaking of that smell, I smell it sometimes too, I think of him a lot, He was THE ONLY PERSON TO EVER OFFER ME ANYTHING, without asking for something in return. HE WAS THE DEFINITION OF KINDNESS, when they say OPPOSITES ATTRACT, that was no joke when it comes to Uncle Larry, and Mary, where he was kind, she was not always, where he was gentle, she was rough. Where he was generous .... well you get the picture. That was in my case anyways. I am so proud of you Jenn! You have overcome obstacles, leapt over people trying to hold you back. You are stronger that you know, and I love you.💕

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