Tuesday, July 12, 2022

My Last Night With Dad

Stuart K. Hayashi

The photo above is of my last interaction with Dad before the intense coughing and wheezing that caused his final trip to the hospital. On Monday, June 13, 2022, the 6:00 p.m. news reported on the strawberry moon — the moon being especially large and bright — and that it would be most prominent on Tuesday, June 14, at 2 a.m. Dad said, “Remember that.” I thought, “Uh-oh.” I knew that, like last year, he would want me to take him out of the house so that he could see it. There was always a danger in transferring Dad from his indoor wheelchair to his outdoor one and use our makeshift ramp to wheel him out the front door.

Around 11 p.m., I went out and saw that the strawberry moon was already in full effect. I asked Dad if he wanted to wait until 2 a.m. for me to take him out of the house. He replied no, he would be satisfied with my taking him out the door as soon as I could. I did, and was worried the whole time about the risk of his falling — the great fear of my mother, who was Dad's caregiver until her death on January 12, 2021. Taking Dad out to see a celestial event was the only action I performed for Dad that my mother would not.

I had an ominous feeling and worried this might be the final experience Dad and I shared together. It was then that I snapped the photo above.

Then I took Dad in. He said he wished he asked me for his distance glasses instead, “but that’s OK.” He said, “Thank you, Stuart.” I soon put Dad in his bed and he started coughing sporadically.

At 1:30 a.m., Dad’s coughing became constant. He had to go to the hospital. He had developed pneumonia from food having repeatedly going down his breathing passage and affecting his lungs. He aspirated and had a stroke.

Thereafter, Dad stayed in the hospital overnight all week. He died on Saturday, June 18, near 11:47 a.m. My older sister, my father’s older sister, and I were in the hospital room, 526, as it happened. My aunt and I clenched hands tightly.

I miss my parents dearly. I always will.