|Posted: December 9, 2011|
|A few more years went by. I was now working with an animal trainer who I hoped to replace when she decided to move on. I was moving up quickly at the zoo and loving every moment. Ethan had obtained his real estate agent’s license. He was getting ready to close on his first sale. We were both well on our way. He still hadn’t asked me to marry him but I could wait. I was only twenty-five. There was still time to have children, though I was older than my mother was when she had me.
I was doing my daily routine at the zoo when my supervisor pulled me to the side. She told me a doctor from my hometown called. My dad was found unconscious out in the barn. He was in the hospital. She said the doc told me to come right away. Dad was in bad shape. It looked as if he had a heart attack. I called Ethan and told him the news. He was in the middle of showing a house so I left a message and took off. It was a three hour drive from the city to my home. As soon as I got there, I went straight to the hospital. Dad was laying in bed with all kinds of tubes and monitors hooked up to him. My mind went straight to the time I saw him holding my mother in his arms, right before she died. I thought it was so unfair that he could not be treated the same way. My heart fell to look upon him. He was pale and his hair grayed quite a bit. My aunt was with him and she hugged me as I walked into the room. Then she left to give us a private moment. He was still sleeping so I sat in a chair next to his bed. While I waited for him to wake up, the doctor came in. He said he suffered a severe heart attack and his heart was damaged. It would not hold out much longer. I couldn’t understand how he got this way. My dad was only forty-five years old, too young for him to be in this condition I thought.
Finally, his eyes began to flutter open. I went to him and held his hand. He looked at me with smiling eyes. The oxygen mask and tubes covered his face.
“Hey.” he struggled to say to me. “You got here pretty quick.”
“I came as soon as I heard. Dad, what happened?” I said as tears welled up in my eyes.
“I don’t know. One minute I was fixing the wheel of the tractor and the next thing I know, I’m laying here in this place.” He looked deep into my eyes and read me like a book. “I’m dying aren’t I? Go on, tell me the truth.”
I couldn’t speak and only nodded my head. He closed his eyes and a single tear squeezed from the corner of his eye. “I knew it. I can feel it.” He reached for the button on the bed and pushed it so the back of the bed lifted up a little. Then he took off the oxygen mask.
“Dad, you should keep this on.” I said trying to replace it. He pushed my hand away and smiled. It had been years since I saw him do so.
“I don’t want to talk to you through this thing. Besides I won’t need it much longer.”
I began to protest but he put his hand up to stop me. “Listen, the farm and all the land is yours now. I know you will do what you think is right. It has been in our family for generations now. It was very special to your mother. She would want to see it protected. I never understood why she felt so passionately about it. She held some secret that went with her to the grave. But I loved her and would see that it never left from our hands. I hope you will keep it, in memory of your mother. Perhaps you will learn its secrets too. As many years as I spent working that land, it never revealed itself to me. I love you. You have made me so proud. I only wish I could be there on your wedding day. Make sure Ethan is the one. There should be no question in your mind. If he truly loves you as he says he does, he will live and breathe for you. He would believe every word you said to him. He would reach up to heaven and give you the stars if he could. You will find it in his eyes. There you will see his soul. That’s where your mother and I found each other.” As he spoke, he closed his eyes and sunk into his pillow. Then, a look came on his face that I had not seen since before Mother became sick. He smiled and looked up at the ceiling of the hospital room. His eyes were full of everlasting love. “My darling, I have missed you.” he whispered. He slowly closed his eyes and took his last breath. The look of pure bliss and contentment never left his face. I believe my mother came for him that night. I wished I could have seen her too.
The doctor came in and proclaimed the time of his death. He apologized for my loss. He said his heart was too damaged to have been able to help him. I now feel that my dad died of a broken heart. He loved my mother so much that he could not survive without her. They shared something so special that one could not live without the other. It was otherworldly. I took a moment to think about this. Did Ethan and I have the same kind of love? Was it possible to ever love someone the way my parents loved each other? Was I making the right decision to marry Ethan one day or was there something bigger out there waiting for me to discover it? All of these questions went unanswered for a long time.
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