Recently, I watched the wildlife show, Nature, on PBS with my father in silence. The theme of the episode happened to be parents in the animal kingdom. We watched a lion pride make a living room out of the Serengeti grasslands. The father lion was the biggest and the head of the pride. His playful cubs sparred under his watchful eye. He was beautiful, strong, majestic, proud, patient, and protective. I always thought of my father that way. I didn’t say that though.
It was getting dark outside and most of the light in the room came from his TV. My Dad sat back in his recliner. The blanket I bought him was draped around his now very slender shoulders.
Next to him were the small portions of soup and drinks I laid out for him on a folding table. He knew he had to drink at least some of it so he could take all his medications. I lined up the nutrient dense liquids in mugs towards the front of the table with a straw if he wasn’t feeling strong enough to hold a mug for a moment. I carefully lined up his pill bottles behind the mugs like a small army coming to save him. Maybe that’s what I hoped they would do.
As nature shows often do, this one turned towards the subject of death. We saw a mother lemur who visibly agonized over leaving her baby because with the baby she couldn’t keep up with her pack. Without the pack the mother would die but without her mother the baby would die. She returned 3 or 4 times to check on the baby. The baby lemur struggled without its mother as she reluctantly left for the last time to rejoin her pack off in the distance.
I changed the channel quickly and searched for the most inane, distracting thing I could find. My father didn’t move. We sat alone together in silence. And we both knew the truth. To me my Dad would always be like that father lion but at the moment he was more like that mother lemur.
Weeks later, when there was nothing else left to say, I let my father know if he needed leave with the rest of the pack, including my beloved sister, that I would understand…and unlike that baby lemur I would be okay. Then, once more, we sat alone together in silence until he took his last breath.
On May 30th my father left.
He was 71 years old. It was a privilege to care for him in his last days. And a privilege not just to know him, but to know him well. We usually said “I love you” instead of goodbye. He was my father, my teacher, and my closest friend.
After my father’s funeral, while I clearing out his apartment, I discovered amongst his important papers, the first business card for So Fresh And So Green I had professionally made. I gave him the first one out of the box and he kept it in mint condition. I want to publicly thank my father, Mr. Toussaint, for taking So Fresh And So Green seriously because this project is so important to me.
To my Dad: Thank you Dad. You will live on through me and through this. You’re always in my heart and you could never really leave me if you’re always there.
So Fresh And So Green will be back online in July. Happy Father’s Day to my father and all the fathers out there no matter what side of life they’re on today.