The call came at 11:45 p.m., waking me from sleep.
“I think your dad had a stroke.”
I don’t live far away, but that was a long drive, despite breaking speed limits and running a couple of red lights.
It took all of about two seconds to confirm my mother’s diagnosis. I called 9-1-1 and the paramedics arrived shortly thereafter.
By the time we got to the ER, he could not move the left side of his body, and his left eye was drooped closed. His speech was slurred and difficult.
They gave him TPA, a clot busting drug. Within 15 minutes, he could move his left leg and within half an hour, he could move his left arm. The facial droop improved, but his speech never quite recovered.
As we left his hospital room Friday night, he gave us a thumbs up gesture. Perhaps our prayers had been answered and he would recover from this. He was in the hospital in May with congestive heart failure, but had done well after that and was back golfing and teaching the residents at the hospital.
But at 4 a.m. Saturday morning, he went unresponsive and had trouble breathing. They put him on a ventilator and took him for a CT scan. One of the side effects of TPA is that you can hemorrhage at the site of the stroke. But the scan showed no hemorrhage. An EEG did not show seizure activity, but was markedly abnormal on the right side where the stroke occurred. An MRI eventually showed bilateral cerebellar strokes and a new brainstem stroke. There would be no recovery.
On the day we stopped the ventilator, I brought him a golf ball to hold, because he loved to play golf and I bonded with him playing that game, and a cold bottle of Sam Adams beer for the other hand. My dad was far from an alcoholic, but he really enjoyed a cold beer once in a while—something he hadn’t been able to enjoy since suffering heart failure in April.
He jokingly asked almost every person who came to visit him in the ICU last Friday if they brought him a cold beer. I couldn’t let him leave this world without his cold beer. So I swabbed it on his lips, and we all shared a Sam Adams. I left the golf ball in his hand.
The next morning, I went jogging, as I usually do about 6 days a week. I always leave my house, go down the back road of our development, and then take a trail that connects the cul-de-sac to the local high school parking lot. I’ve run that trail for 14 years.
The day after he died, there was a golf ball. Lying in the road. Right in front of the trail. There is no golf course nearby. I have never seen a golf ball down there before.
I think somehow, some way, he left that there for me.
He couldn’t have left me the beer! My wife says that’s because someone else would have taken the beer, so I have to settle for the golf ball.
Sure, it probably fell out of someone’s golf bag–then out of their car. But I suspect the odds of that happening on THAT day at THAT time after THOSE circumstances are worse than my odds of winning the POWERBALL tonight.
And even if there is a physical explanation, whose to say his spirit didn’t have a hand in making that happen?
It might not have materialized from Heaven, but my dad brought it to me just the same.
I miss you already, dad.