We were on our way to the airport for a ski vacation to the Alps a couple weeks ago when I got the call that my dad had been referred to hospice. We re-routed our trip to Florida to be with him and my mom.
The man who taught me to ski, to make a perfect pie crust and to parallel park; who helped me learn the meaning of hard work and who helped engineer my high-school senior prank; who instilled in me a love of the outdoors, reggae and lobster bisque; passed away in HPH Hospice on March 9 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He took his last, peaceful breath while watching a Warren Miller movie, with Steve on one side of his bed and me on the other, holding his hand.
There’s so much to say about how tough my dad was, hanging onto life by a thread for eight days after the doctors told us that continuing to administer nutrition with a feeding tube was prolonging and worsening his discomfort. There’s a lot to say, too, about how he never pitied himself or complained during an illness- and pain-ridden past four years. I could write volumes about his incredible traits—his healthy sense of mischief (he helped engineer my senior prank), his sense of humor, his easygoing confidence, his kind, nonjudgemental manner. Somewhere in my brain, there’s an essay about what I’ve learned from skiing in my dad’s tracks over the years. There will be time for this down the road.
I’m writing this from a sunny porch in suburban Denver, where I’m spending the afternoon with some coffee, my laptop, a good book and some breathing room. Why Denver? Because once we’d done all there was to do in Florida, we realized we still had five days before we were due back home. We asked ourselves: What would my dad do with this time? Fly to Denver from Tampa for a memorial ski trip, of course. Tomorrow, we’ll head to Arapahoe Basin, and the next day, to Steamboat. We will attempt to ski in my dad’s spirit, which I hope will lead to living in his spirit in the years to come.