Years of alcoholism had taken its toll. Snow white hair, face wrinkled from heavy smoking and stooped by excessive radiation therapy, hard living numbered Wendell Fitz Sr’s days.
His hands shook while holding the brown spue stained handkerchief to his mouth. Coughing, his face turned beet red as his lungs heaved everything in them.
This day was the last time Del saw his father alive.
One month later, Del flew to speak at his father’s funeral. Wendell chose cremation, no open casket, no last look at his shell all painted and adorned; only an urn, pictures, and memories.
Del looked into his father’s blue eyes still vibrant with life. Wendell’s body told a different story.
Tears dammed by Del’s pride fought to flow from his eyes. This day will be no tears; Bottled and saved for after dad has passed.
Wendell seemed calm as they sat in silence.
Unaware of his dad’s demeanor, Del was preoccupied with his thoughts. The ongoing silence only frustrated him.
Wendall was not a religious man. He blamed his fiercely religious parents for many of his childhood woes. It left him bitter for most of his life.
Del was both fascinated and fearful of death. Set aside, his intellectual curiosity about an afterlife, his religious conversion, and his philosophical and theological studies he was not ready to stare death in the face. It was all purely academic as he realized his father was dying.
Del could not contain himself any longer. The question ached in the back of his throat.
“Dad, are you ready for death?”
The old man looked Del in his eyes.
“I have made my peace with God.”
“I AM READY to meet him.”
“Dad’s calmness soothed my storm that day.”