Ilya S. Savenok, Getty Images The sad news came across late Wednesday afternoon…
- Posted on Oct 20th 2008 5:00PM by Jessica Robertson
As I walked out the front door, I thought I saw something strange in my peripheral vision: my father lying on the couch, as he always did after watching the news, but backward -- with his feet where his head usually was -- which would have been highly unusual, something I had never seen. But I was late and as I hurried out the door, I decided that I must have imagined it and kept going.
I woke up early the next morning so I could make the two-hour drive to register for fall classes in Richmond, but something didn't seem right. I don't know how I knew, but I could tell something was wrong.
I went upstairs and the usual signs of my father going to work were not there. No lights were on and it was eerily quiet. I ran up to my parents' bedroom, trying to mentally prepare myself for the worst-case scenario. As I walked in the room, I saw what I was afraid I would see: my father, lying there faceup on the bed, sideways, fully clothed, on top of the covers with his legs bent and his feet almost on the floor.
I thought maybe he fell asleep like that. I said, "Dad? Are you awake?" He didn't respond. I started to panic.
I yelled, "Dad! Wake up! Come on!"
I shook him. "S---! Come on!"
I yelled right up against his ear, the same way I did with Liz. Just the fact that I was touching him was surreal. I grabbed the phone and dialed 911. When the operator answered I told her that my father wouldn't wake up. She asked where he was and I told her on the bed. She told me to pick him up and carry him to the floor so she could instruct me in CPR. I put the phone down, pushed my arms under his body and picked him up. His entire body was completely stiff, like a board. I carefully carried him across the room, his body frozen in the position that he was in on the bed, and lowered him to the floor. I put the phone back to my ear and told the 911 operator that his body was stiff and asked her what to do next. She said, "Oh ... well ... um, just wait there. Someone will be there soon."
As she finished the sentence I heard sirens blaring in the distance. He must have died the night before. The 911 operator knew there was nothing to do after I told her his body was stiff. The ambulance came and they checked him out. They put a sheet over him and told me to go downstairs. He was only fifty-one. I was in shock and didn't know what to do. It was hard to know even how to feel. My father had just died, but I barely had a relationship with him. And here I was, alone with him in the house, just the two of us. Only, he was dead.
From 'Things the Grandchildren Should Know' by Mark Oliver Everett. Text copyright © 2008 by the author and reprinted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin's Press, LLC. All rights reserved.