Sunday was my birthday, and I got to spend it holding the hand of my beautiful dad. The following day, yesterday, he slipped peacefully away surrounded by people who love him. He was larger than life, with a voice that was warm and rich and full of magic. He lived 86 adventure-packed years, the last 58 of them married to my mom. He was a pro ball player (a 'Roughie'), a ski racer, a coach of almost everything, but above all a family man. He was always there for all of us; would quit a job if it created a conflict with some event we wanted him at, would drive across the country to pick us up at the drop of a hat if we needed him to (not theoretic, factual). He loved his wife, his kids and his grandkids to a fault, and we loved him back with the same ferocity.
It's hard saying good-bye, but what I think makes it easier is the fact that he left nothing on the table. There's no void he forgot to fill for us, no question about how he felt, no lingering need to resolve something or have him acknowledge or offer support. He was there for us full stop. He thought we could do anything, and he'd tell anyone who stopped long enough to listen. He kept his dignity in his illness, and even on his very last day, after a panicked ambulance ride back to the hospital, he took the time to give a warm sympathetic smile to the nurse trying to take a blood sample from his failing veins.
He was a great man, and the best dad ever.
I did this sketch of him during the 'every day in may' challenge. I thought many times of sketching him in this past month as he lay in his hospital bed (he was still beautiful even then), but that would have involved letting go of his hand, which I was not prepared to do.