My Father’s Last Breath

One second he was there and then… he wasn’t

Mitch Ditkoff

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There is a time of life when the time of life is about to end — the time of last breaths, the time of saying goodbye to everything you have ever known or loved, the time of letting go. This is the time my father now finds himself in.

He is flat on his back in a hospital bed, but the hospital bed is in his bedroom in West Palm Beach which is where he has chosen to die — and will.

There will be no more calls to 911, no more paramedics, no more blood transfusions, no more needles, pills or tests. This is his death bed and we are around it, me, his son — his daughter, my sister — my wife, his daughter-in-law — grandchildren, great grandchildren and the ever-present hospice nurse here to keep him as comfortable as possible.

His mouth is dry. He cannot swallow. Someone swabs his lips as he gathers what’s left of his strength to move his tongue toward the precious few drops of water. The sound track for his last night on Earth is an oxygen machine pumping purified air through transparent tubes clipped to the end of his nose. On the counter — creams. Creams for this and creams for that and creams for the other thing, too. I’ve never seen so many creams.

Those of us around his bed are very still, holding his hand, rubbing his back…

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Mitch Ditkoff

Co-Founder of Idea Champions, Face The Music & Sage Catalysts. Author of Storytelling for the Revolution, Storytelling at Work, Unspoken Word and Free the Genie