It was five years ago today that my father walked into an operating room to have a kidney removed and died a few hours later. He bled to death in the recovery room when the clips on his renal artery came off. Our questions about how that could happen were never properly resolved.
I can still see him walking away with the nurse, that big childlike grin on his face as he made wise cracks designed to leave the hospital smiles in stitches as they both walked through that set of double-hinged doors. He loved to laugh -- and to make others laugh. We'd been told that even as he had woken groggily in the recovery room that fateful morning, and just before he slipped away forever, he had started joking with the nurses again.
He did his best, I suppose, to leave them laughing.
Five years and it still feels like yesterday. Five years and the pain is still just as fierce. Five years of wanting just one more laugh with him. Five years and I miss him just as much.
I'll be tipping a beer back tonight, not in celebration of St. Patrick's Day, but in celebration of you, Dad. And I'll do my best to make as many people as possible smile or laugh as I can today.