e13-1June 5, 2004 was damp and thick with fog. I drove to my parents’ house at 5:30 in the morning after a restless night  — waking up often thinking the phone would ring at any moment with news that my father was gone. My brother Ron was flying all night from Hawaii where he’d been vacationing with his wife Doria — I prayed my father would hang on until Ron got there.  When I walked into my parents’ house just before dawn, Ron was there and my father was still alive.

As close as he seemed to death, hours went by. The fog burned off and a weak filmy sun shone through. We drank coffee and water and talked about our memories. A little before one o’clock his breathing changed. The doctor checked his heart and said it’s almost time. That’s when my father gave us one last gift — a miracle. Seconds before he died, he opened his eyes — eyes that hadn’t opened in nearly a week. They were blue and clear and present. Over the years his eyes had faded to a grayish color, but right then they were blue as the sky. He looked at my mother, lingered on her face, and then he died.

I think of that moment often — it’s the silver thread I hold to as life moves between light and shadow, but always keeps moving. He showed us that the soul can shine through even when the body is spent by disease and death is whisper-close.

It’s been ten years since that day, but every year when June arrives — when the Jacaranda trees leave blankets of purple flowers on the ground and the air smells like jasmine — part of my soul returns to that room and my father’s clear blue eyes the moment before he died. In so many ways, I have never really left that room.


  1. russell daron says:

    It is never easy to say goodbye to someone you love and that captured the feeling with eloquence and simplicity.

  2. dustyboots says:

    Brilliantly written! It made goosebumps stand out on my skin!

    This is something that will the touch the heart of millions; in fact every human being who cares for their parents. When I read this,I instantly prayed for the well being of my father, who is going through a bit of rough patch. I don’t want to go through a feeling like this–EVER!

  3. Rick Lertzman says:

    A beautifully written piece that reflects your deep love for your father. It was quite touching and very moving.

  4. Rodney says:

    Beautiful memory that gives us all hope that the soul is more than the body. May President Reagan rest in God’s everlasting peace and rise in all God’s great glory.

  5. Mick Bysshe says:

    I just finished reading William E. Pemberton’s 1997 biography of your dad and realized how much he was influenced by his parents. My dad too was hard to get close to and I am grateful that he has shown up in my dreams now and then. Interesting that the New Testament suggests death is somewhat of an illusion–I am the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead but of the living: for all live unto him. (Luke 20:38 KJV)

  6. Toni Rio says:

    Your writing pulled me in to your Fathers last ‘moments with his family and the intimacy of those moments. Patti, you have a gift.

  7. MaryJane Scheibal says:

    Beautifully written..I so admire you and your style if writing!

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