ralph robert moore
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Copyright © 2006 by Ralph Robert Moore.
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but a boy
october 1, 2006
My father, Ralph Robert Moore Sr., passed away in his sleep Friday, September 22.
He was eighty-five years old.
He had been in poor health the past few years.
As often happens in life, in the midst of so many good things, there was one bad thing.
In my father's case, that one bad thing occurred about three years ago.
He was on vacation in Florida, with Kay, a wonderful woman he shared his life with after my mother died.
They were at a circus.
Going down the stairs to their seat, my Dad fell. He broke his hip.
He had his hip replaced in Florida, but the surgeon botched it. One titanium screw, so small and anonymous, hadn't been placed right. The screw soon came loose, inside him, causing my Dad a great deal of pain.
Once he was back in Connecticut, he had a second hip replacement surgery to repair the damage from the first. This second surgery was successful, but given that he had had heart valve replacement surgery a year prior, he was weakened.
He should have been walking normally, like his old self, in a month. Instead, three months after the operation, he was still winded after reaching the end of the hall of the assisted living facility where he had moved.
After that, he started bleeding internally. The doctors never found the source of his bleeding. Just treated it by giving him constant transfusions. The death of a thousand diagnoses. Then, his bones started breaking. He went under a number of surgeries to fuse his spine, to relieve the excruciating pain.
Even after all these operations, these crushing disappointments, he never lost his sense of humor. He wanted to keep living. To eat another meal (he raved about how good the food at the assisted living facility was), to go on another trip (he and Kay had been preparing to visit Las Vegas), to spend another quiet evening watching television.
I stayed in touch with him by telephone every few weeks. At the end of each call, I always said, "I love you, Dad." He always answered, "I love you, Bobby."
But I could tell he was departing. Each phone call I thought, and probably he thought, Is this the last time? And of course, one time, it was.
The Monday after his death, I went to a dermatologist about an unusual growth above my right eye. I figured while I was there I'd also have some moles on my left shoulder removed.
Since I was a new patient, I had to fill out a medical history. I had grown accustomed, under the column for Mother, inking-in, Deceased. But this was the first time ever I had to change what I put under Father.
I could have put in, I'll never hear his voice again, but instead, sitting among people with skin problems, I simply inked-in, Deceased.
The growth above my right eye turned out not to be cancer. Just a tiny wart. I sat at the edge of the tissue-papered examination table with my shirt off while the doctor looked at the growth with a jeweler's loop, then Sherlock'd around my chest and back. No malignancies.
They removed the growth above my eye, and the moles on my shoulder, by freezing them.
The paradox of extremes is that the freezings felt like a tiny point of fire on each site.
The doctor told me to squeeze my eye shut, then tiny point of fire.
He moved to my shoulder. Tiny point of fire, tiny point of fire, tiny point of fire.
Once all the sites were frozen, it was easy to revisit them, he and his nurse assistant, dipping down with tiny scalpels, to excise.
Removing the growth above my right eye caused the greatest amount of bleeding.
The doctor had to press a cloud of white gauze against the gouge.
When he asked me to pull the gauze away, five minutes later, there was the prettiest bloom of red blood against the white gauze. One of the oddities of life, that red blood against white gauze just looks so pretty.
After the freezings and cuttings were finished I asked, "So that's it? It's resolved?"
The doctor nodded. "Until they come back. Which they will. But then we can do this all over again, each time."
Here's the remembrance I wrote for my Dad, for his memorial service:
My Dad, a year before his death.