I was still reeling from my father's death when bad news came again in February. Charlie and I were at home when the phone call came his father was being taken from Clinton, MO to Kansas City, MO by lifeflight. He had suffered a heart attack. There wasn't much news at that point so we sat by the phone and waited.
Later we got a call he was in surgery to repair damage and the family would call later with a progress report. The next phone call was to tell us he had passed away. Charlie and I looked at one another with pain. It couldn't be happening again so soon. We had lost another father. Immediately we began to make plans to return to Missouri for another funeral.
About an hour later we got another phone call. The doctor had come out and told the family he didn't know how it happened. He could only explain it as a miracle, but Earnie's heart started beating on its own. He had never in all his years as a physician seen anything like it. Tears of joy began to flow at our miracle.
We made plans to travel to Kansas City to see Charlie's father. The following day we left to arrive in a snow covered Kansas City. Earnie was in intensive care, but everything was looking good for him. He was temporarily on a ventilator to help him breathe without struggle. They were keeping his body temperature low to prevent any further damage and it would be raised in a day or so. Everyone decided to leave and get some rest to return the next day.
On February 24th, my birthday, we returned to the hospital to find Charlie's dad was alert and responding to commands. He was heating his body up on his own. The family was able to go back and see him. He responded by nodding his head to questions that were asked of him. Each of us was comforted by his response.
That evening Charlie and I decided to leave and celebrate my birthday by having dinner. We stepped out the hospital doors into a blizzard. We made it to a motel and decided it was safer to just have dinner at a Denny's right next to it. We ordered our dinner and had just began to eat when his sister, Frankie, called and told us their father had taken a tragic turn and his kidneys were failing. I was praying as we drove through the blizzard that he would not die on my birthday. When we arrived, we discovered Earnie was already gone.
I can not explain the weight that sat on my chest. I had been with Charlie since I was seventeen years old. In only six weeks I had lost another father. I didn't want to attend another funeral.
I believe with all my heart Earnie held on until Charlie could get there. He did it for himself and for Charlie. He knew he could leave in peace now that both of them had said goodbye. He was ready to go, we were just not ready to release him. But he is free of all the pain that had tormented him through the last years of his life.
I miss him. The pain is still real. I am not sure when the pain of losing two fathers so close together will subside.