The Day My Dad Died

The parts of the following text were printed in the Omaha World-Herald newspaper of Omaha, Nebraska USA on Sunday, September 19th, 2004, Page 17-A

by Dan Boeckman (

Version 7, 08-28-2004, 11:33 AM CDT)

The day my dad died was Friday, June 25th, 2004. It is easy to remember being half way before/after Christmas. It set the record low temperature of 45 degrees for that date here in Omaha. My Uncle Danny from Dayton, Ohio was staying with me in my guest bedroom. He had just flown in the night before. I had gone to the airport with 2 of my brothers to pick him up. We drove down to VA Hospital on 42nd and Center where my dad was around 7:00 AM. My mom was there on the 6th floor in Intensive Care at my dad's bedside. She spent many days and hours there with my dad. My dad was on a ventilator, so you could not talk to him. I checked the numbers on the machines and it looked about the same as from the day before. Then my Uncle and I went down to the 3rd floor and had some breakfast. I think I had two pieces of French toast and an orange juice. Then we went back up to 6th floor. Since all the numbers looked the same to me, I took off for my daily walk at the Westroads Mall. I usually walk there for an hour each day, if I can make it. I was on vacation from work that day, since it was Friday. I usually take vacation on Fridays unless it is real busy at work or other people in my work group are gone.

After my surreal walk. I went to the bank where my parents have a safety deposit box downtown. I spent at least an hour copying all the important papers I could find. Then I think I went to the public library downtown and made some extra copies of some of these papers. I used the copier on first floor. As I was driving down 14th street near Jackson street my pager went off. There were many "false alarms" with my pager going off for work related errors over the weeks leading up to June 25th. Each time I wondered before I looked at the text of the message, if this was THE message that Dad had died. This time it had a local cell phone number of one of my brothers. That was not a good sign. I drove to my parent's house and as I was driving the song "Come to Jesus" by Chris Rice was playing on KBGI 100.7 FM. That song is now linked in my mind to this day every time I hear it. It brings back these memories.

I called in from my parent's house and was told the bad news. Dad had passed away around 9:30 AM. They would meet me at the VA hospital, so I headed over there. Two of my brothers met me at the north doors and said there was nothing to see. The hospital personnel had "pulled the curtains." The body would be taken to the mortuary. Another brother had signed all kinds of forms about the death taking place. Everyone had gone to my sister's house, so we headed over there. There was no way to say good-bye...he was gone. That was it. One of my early reactions was was. Who wants to go to the hospital day after day and see someone you love dying little by little? It was no fun and ate up a significant amount of time. It was very hard on my Mom staying many hours each day at the hospital. I did not have to go to the hospital everyday anymore. In a sense I am "glad" I was not there to see the actual moment he stopped breathing or his heart stopped or the numbers on the machines go to zero. I did not see him turn a different color/appearance. There was no way for him to recover and he went home to the Lord. That is what we all pray for. He went home to the one who made him. He gets to see his parents, siblings, friends that have also died. He is at peace. He is not suffering anymore.

He was on a ventilator and there was no way to communicate with him at the end. I asked the doctors if they could bring him back to a level to talk to him and they said it would not be possible. There was no way to say "Thanks for everything" or "Until we meet again" or "Good-bye" or anything. That was very frustrating at the end.

I owe my Dad a lot. He gave me my faith in the Lord. You would not be reading these words today, if it was not for his faith. He did an awesome job of passing his faith along to me and my family. He stopped me from going into the Marines back in 1970 right out of high school. I probably would have ended up in Vietnam I imagine. In a sense "he saved my life" you could say. I went to college at UNL instead. For 4 years he got up every Sunday morning with one of my brothers to deliver about 150 newspapers on my paper route north of 32nd and Cuming. He was always there to come rescue me if my car broke down over the years or helping with fixing problems with my house. He was Mr. Fix-It man. Me? I am unbelievably hopeless at fixing things. He definitely has me beat there. He married a wonderful beautiful loving woman in 1945. I have never been married. He's got me beat there again! But "why keep score?" I ask myself this morning (August 19th). My relationship to my Dad was far from perfect. There was a certain "tension" between my Dad and myself over the years. We were not close by any means. I went to college and he did not. I made more money at my job then he did at his. I traveled on vacation around the USA and he could not afford it. He was deadly critical of me at times and you can probably see that in my writings. I am so critical! I had to go way beyond "way beyond" to outdo what he thought of me. There was no way worldly possible to impress him from my point of view. At least that's how I saw it for most of my life.

I'm told by my Mom that Dad in recent years read what I wrote on daily. I'm not sure what he thought of my writings. There was only one compliment that I can recall that he gave to me about what I wrote in the newspaper and on the Internet. It probably was one of the "To Be A Success" writings. He said he liked what I wrote that day. I did alright! That meant the world to me! Would you parents out there give your children sincere compliments!

The doctors and nurses at VA are great! Thank you ever so much from me and my family for doing what you could for my Dad! You did everything that you could. His time was up. It was time to go home. God bless all of you.

"To Be A Success In 2004" was printed in the newspaper Sunday, September 12th one week ago on Page 14-A.

On August 11th at 6:23 AM I asked my friend Vicki by way of email: "is there something you want to tell the whole world?" This was her reply 253 minutes later: "There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

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