A few days after the conference, however, I found out my Dad was going to be transferred from the hospital where he’d gone for a simple procedure, to hospice for end-of-life care. I headed back home from vacation and started making my way to my Dad. I called him while on the bus from NYC to NH and he asked, “Are you writing?”
At the hospital I pinned the 2012 Golden Heart finalist firebird pin to his pillow and explained how the finalists had connected to the firebird imagery of transformation and rebirth. I knew he’d understand–he was an artist and musician who when I was 5 lost three fingers on his right hand in an accident. Determined not to lose the things that brought him joy, he taught himself to play the piano and paint again.
During his brief time at hospice my mother, my sisters, my brother-in-law and his partner, my nephews and my niece were joined at his bedside by a steady stream of family and friends. When the time came for him to go, he was surrounded by the love he created. We celebrated his life in a memorial held in his beloved back-yard, and butterflies danced around the tent as people told stories about the ways he inspired them.
My Dad is the source of my love of history and story-telling and my infatuation with romance as a genre. No, he didn’t read romance…but he did celebrate romance everywhere he could find it–in movies, art, novels, musical theater as well as in the lives of those around him. He loved a good love story.
My answer to his question “Are you writing?” was “Not at the moment, but I will.” And, now that the memorial is over and the many changes that must come have been put into motion, I know it’s time to give him a different answer.
Yes, Dad, I’m writing. I’ll keep writing. Because love really is the most important thing in this life.