The Final Gift

I had planned a week of tributes to my larger-than-life father. Then, Orlando happened. Like so many, I struggled.  I’ll save his stories for another time, and resubmit this one. It was special to me.

Father’s Day gifts. Some say it’s more difficult to buy for men, especially as they get older.

Except for my father. He was passionate about so many things.

A lifetime golfer, cigar smoker, bourbon aficionado, poker player, coin collector and best of all, gourmet cook and foodie, he was easy to please when it came to gifts.

On what turned out to be his last Father’s Day, I took him a gourmet fruit basket. He lived just less than an hour away, and this time, I delivered it in person.


The Stottsville Inn. Est. 1740

Just a few weeks prior, his wife had gathered 3 generations of us for a surprise 74th birthday dinner at a lovely historic Inn.

There were tears as well as joy. It was a huge success.

I could have sent the fruit basket through a florist, I had done that before.

There was something else that motivated me to make the personal visit.

He was flushed and a bit out of breath when he ascended the stairs of the 250 year old inn to the second floor party room. We all noticed.

It was also curious that his wife did not save the special birthday event for his hallmark 75th birthday. She knew.

Congestive heart disease. It had progressed over the few years since his diagnosis and surgery.

The home health care nurse was arranged. He would need to go on oxygen; bedding and toilet facilities would be set up to allow him to avoid using the stairs at home.

A fiercely proud and independent man, this was his worst nightmare and I wondered how long he would have to endure it.

It didn’t take long to find out. I got the call 2 days later.

He died peacefully in his sleep the night before his equipment was scheduled to arrive.Fruit

As we gathered for his funeral service, we were still serving the fruit from that basket.

It only seemed right.

I miss you, Dad.

Happy Father’s Day.

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111 Responses to The Final Gift

  1. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Matt from Van by the River remembers his father and how precious that last Father’s Day was.

  2. writerinsoul says:

    Oh Van, this is lovely. So real. Your father died his way, which sounds totally in step with the character you describe.

  3. Erika Kind says:

    How wonderful that he was allowed to have this event. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story, Van.

  4. gh0stpupp3t says:

    Aww.. 🙂 I miss my father too.

  5. LaVagabonde says:

    So beautiful and sad a tribute, Van. Every Father’s Day must be bittersweet for you.

    • It’s definitely emotional, Julie, but no longer sad…he was quite the character and I have so many good and funny memories ! In the last years, he also let us know that he was flawed (as we all are) and it didn’t burst that pedestal we had him on…it made us respect him more. 💕

  6. This is a moving piece of writing and a lovely tribute to your father.

  7. This is a poignant story and a wonderful tribute to your father today. ❤

  8. AmyRose says:

    Oh, Van, I am in tears and have goosebumps. Rejoice your Dad went peacefully and quickly. That is a True Blessing. My Dad suffered greatly at the end of his life. May you Be Blessed this day, my friend! Love, Amy ❤

    • I understand, dear Amy, and I hope you get through this one, the first holiday like this without him is the hardest. Thinking of you. Hugs. 💕

      • AmyRose says:

        I really do have Peace today, Van. It’s uncanny but True, nonetheless. I am staying away from major blogging today, though, because some posts are just too much for me to handle. Thank you for thinking of me. I’ve been thinking of you too. (((HUGS))) Amy ❤

      • My Dad has been gone since 1998, Amy, and a few years ago, the sadness of losing him was replaced by so much joy, for the person he was, the gifts he passed along to me, the lessons I learned, the love that I realized was so hard to express, but was felt so deeply. We now honor his memory with his jokes, his pranks, his so many stories !! It will happen one day, and you’ll hardly even notice the transition. 💕

      • AmyRose says:

        It’s happening already, Van. It’s a Miracle, because I really took my Dad’s death really hard. The JOY I feel today is for real. I actually remembered something my Dad would joke about regarding me, how when I was a small child he took me into an outhouse to go potty and I could not for the life of me understand why I could not flush the potty. How my Dad explained that one to me I will never know, because I never stopped asking WHY. Hehehehehehehe ❤

      • There you go….☺

  9. Thank you for sharing this. It was really beautiful.

  10. Reblogged this on Michaelphelps1's Blog and commented:
    A heartfelt tribute to a GOOD FATHER.

  11. So precious that he got to see and enjoy everyone that last time. And I’m sure you are grateful you delivered the fruit personally. How reassuring that he passed peacefully at home.

    • Thank you, Melinda. I had a similar experience with my mother, showing up just days before she passed away, meeting up with other siblings who arrived just in time. The Gathering. Life is mysterious sometimes. ☺ Van

  12. My heart goes out to you.

  13. C.E.Robinson says:

    Van, okay…Matt? A beautiful memory of your Dad! Years do soften the grief, and so many happy stories come forth to show the lasting love. Three days before my Dad died (age 74) we talked long distance by phone for over an hour. Jokinginly I said, “We’re both getting older, Dad, and before you die, there are some things I want to ask you” He laughed! And answered every “personal” question. It was a milestone hour in my life! I miss him! Christine

    • It’s my own fault on the Matt..I put Matt Foley, the SNL motivational speaker, in a prominent place on my About page. lol. What perfect timing..your phone call was a blessing. So interesting that things like this happen to folks all the time near the end of life. Can’t be a coincidence ?? Thanks, Christine ❤️

      • C.E.Robinson says:

        Van, leave it to Sally’s humor side to pick up on the subtle things. Right on, those precious moments in life come from the heavens above! So many years & distance have gone by and that “hour” talk with him is still vivid in my mind! Thanks Van for bringing me back to that memory writing about your Dad! Christine

      • Glad to have evoked that sweet memory for you, Christine…that was more than I’d hoped for.. a holiday bonus ! ❤️

  14. Despite how sad it is, there is something to be said for leaving peacefully on your own terms. How wonderful that you were all able to have that special day together before his death. A lovely story, Van, with poignant memories. I can see why you miss him.

  15. Oh Van, it sounds like your Dad went when he was ready to go. He didn’t want to have to use all that equipment. How wonderful that you all had that special time with him before he died. I am one of 6 kids and when my Dad was ill, he often joked that he knew it would be the end if he saw all 6 of us around his bed. The weekend before he died all 6 of us did manage to get to see him . My brother who lives in Malaysia happened to be in the UK and went to see him as well. Ge died on the Wednesday after, it was like he was hanging on to see us all.

  16. A.PROMPTreply says:

    How nice to take a moment and share you father with us on here. I’m so glad you took that basket yourself that time. Sometimes, invisible hands guide us….

  17. Nurse Kelly says:

    That was so beautiful, Van. Thank you for sharing such a sweet memory in honor of him on this day. 🙂

  18. George says:

    Beautifully expressed.

  19. AmyRose says:

    Van, good morning!!! I am nominating you for a challenge that I just today finished up with. I had so much fun with this one, so I hope you accept. Here is the link to my last post:
    Love, Amy ❤

  20. markbialczak says:

    Yes, Van. Lovely tribute to your cherished father. Happy Father’s Day to your pop, up there, my friend.

  21. lbeth1950 says:

    Wonderful tribute. What a gift that he was able to slide out before everyone had to be involved in his suffering. So often now families don’t share at the time of death.

  22. hobo hippie says:

    Van -Very sad and moving-i miss my dad too -but in England (i am english) mothers and fathers day is different from the U.S. best ana

  23. Amy says:

    How beautiful. This one really choked me up.It is wonderful that you have such a good memory of your last time with him. Hugs to you.

  24. katkent2014 says:

    Reblogged this on writersback and commented:
    Thank you for posting such a beautiful and truthful story; they are still the best. Cheers to your father…and you. Kat.

  25. I am blessed with a father of many fun interests as well, now 95. It is all in timing. Thanks for liking my Miami Post.. Now Following you, I have found fantastic bloggers via Sally.

  26. What an emotional post. *Wipes tear* Beautifully written.

  27. Ann Koplow says:

    Beautiful post, Van. Much love to you.

  28. Where I come from we believe it only happens to special people, those who have done a lot of good in their life.
    That their death happens as if it was planned for, though the news will always be painful and shocking.
    We experienced that with my father in law.

  29. Ritu says:

    A beautiful tribute to your father Van 💖 happy fathers day to your dad wherever he may be 😇

  30. Prior-2001 says:

    Hey van! Imagining everyone eat fruit from the basket brought wet eyes and a smile of joy! This was beautiful and special how things lined up his way – so much closure leading up and during – ❤️
    And many hugs to you –
    Also – sending more love to overcome that Orlando evil with good- with warmth and may hate never win!

  31. Just Plain Ol' Vic says:

    What a touching and heartfelt memory. Thank you for sharing.

  32. Jim says:

    nice post about Dad

  33. joey says:

    So sorry. It’s a lovely tribute. Truly ❤

  34. Oh, tears for your dad and mine, Van! Mine passed away nearly 16 years ago, but Father’s Day brings it back… lovely remembrance ❤

  35. A special post, indeed, Van

  36. lbeth1950 says:

    He sounds like a wonderful father.

    • As an adult, I was privy to some conversations where he shared his flaws, owned up to “mistakes made”..his words. That did nothing to knock him off that pedestal. 💛 💙 💜

  37. He sounds larger than life and what a great tribute Van xxx

  38. Deb says:

    I’m sorry for the loss of your Dad, but comforted by the knowledge that he died peacefully in his sleep. He sounds like he was quite a wonderfully fun man, as you said larger than life!! What beautiful memories you must have of your Dad!! xo

  39. amommasview says:

    Memories will always be with us. The ones of how the loss feels as well as the beautiful ones. Big hug to you!

  40. A beautifully told story to share your father. I think of it not as a bad thing that he got to pass before the real suffering began, it seems to me he made that choice. I’m glad I could meet him through your words. 💕

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