It is with sadness in my heart that I write this post – and it is to let you know that my father peacefully passed away this past Sunday.
He was surrounded by love, family, honor and appreciation in his final days.
The past few weeks have been intense as his disease progressed far more rapidly than any of us were prepared for. When we pulled into Melbourne, we were a bit taken aback by how much he had already deteriorated since he visited us in Cedar Key just weeks prior. His energy levels never rebounded like we had hoped for, and we all quickly became aware that his time left in this world would be far less than 6 months his doctors predicted.
My father set a goal to make it until at least April 6 – which would be the day that his fellow submarine veterans were christening a 23′ model submarine to put on display in a military museum and be used as a parade float. Last year, his shipmates decided to name it the USS Tim VeArd. He had been glowing for months about this great honor.
You see, my dad is kinda a big deal in the submarine veteran community – having created the database backend that has brought many shipmates back together (Decklog.com is a donation from our company to help naval veterans reconnect and reunite.)
In the days leading up to the christening, his condition was rapidly deteriorating.
On Thursday, April 4, he decided it was time to be admitted to the local hospice house. The care he received there was beyond remarkable. We, as a family, could see his burdens immediately released and peace fully settle within. I am so thankful for this resource, they truly made the experience… dare I say… a pleasure.
He made a promise to all of us that he would make it to at least Saturday to see the christening. It was clear he would not be able to physically attend, so we brought together our mobile technology to live video stream it to his bed. Using my iPhone to hotspot my iPad, I was able to Facetime the entire ceremony to my father’s bed. My mother, brother and I attended the beach ceremony with his shipmates, and Chris stayed with him to orchestrate the tech on that end.
My father got to watch and hear as many honored him and my mother poured champagne over the bow of the USS Tim VeArd, who’s motto is appropriately “Always Positive’.
Throughout all of this, that has been my father’s attitude – he was always positive, and approached each challenge head on. Right up until the very end. That is a message I live by, and will continue to be inspired by with every step I take in life.
One of his final requests is that I put together a video of the christening ceremony to share. If you haven’t had a good cry this week, well… here ya go (direct link).
Less than 24 hours after the christening, having successfully met his goal, my father very peacefully passed away. Chris and I are deeply honored that he choose to do so on our bedside shift. We are positive that there was no doubt in his mind how much he was loved, appreciated and cherished by many.
He approached his end of life as he did every other phase – with grace, courage, honor and positivity.
It’s been just about 3 years since my dad’s cancer was first diagnosed. And the past 15 months or so have been an active and intense fight. While I am deeply saddened by the loss, I am also happy that he is at peace and no longer suffering. I am so blessed that our nomadic lifestyle has allowed us to be here through much of it, and truly be by his and my mom’s side.
We’ll remain here in Melbourne for a while longer, to make sure my Mom is fully supported in transitioning to this new phase of her life, and that all of the logistics are taken care of. And then I suspect we’ll be in search of some much needed recuperation time ourselves.
Bravo Zulu, Dad. There’s a huge hole in my heart that can’t be filled by anyone else, and I will miss you greatly forever.