On the morning of October 8, 2006, I threw a fit because my dad didn’t feel well. Normally, this would’ve been fine, but we were supposed to go to County Line Orchard that day. I must have been a pretty convincing 8-year-old because he came with to the orchard.
That was the last time he ever came on a family outing. He had a heart attack on the hayride out to the field, the final of approximately five. To this day I wonder what would’ve happened if he had gone to the hospital instead of coming with us. Sometimes I think that if I hadn’t complained he might still be alive, although I know deep down that no amount of medical attention could’ve saved him. He was living on borrowed time as it was; the stent in his heart had stolen us another year with him. It was only a matter of time.
I remember his heart attack more than I’d like to admit. I remember he and my mom talking about what kind of apples would make the best pie. Mid-conversation, he slumped over onto my brother. At first, we thought he was playing a joke on us, but then he peed his pants and his glasses slipped off. My mom always says that she knew he was dead the second his glasses slipped down and he made no attempt to push them back up.
Someone yelled for an ambulance and the tractor stopped but I still felt like I was moving. One of the employees drove us to the hospital. We beat the ambulance there by a good ten minutes, but it felt like a lifetime. My grandma and grandpa came to the hospital, and the ER workers moved us to a private room. None of us took it as a good sign.
About an hour later the doctor came out and told us that he had tried everything, but that my dad had passed away. We got to see him before the coroner took his body away. I hugged him one last time, but he was already cold.
That was ten years ago as of Saturday.
My mom and I spent the ten year anniversary of his death watching Hamilton. It seemed almost serendipitous to us both that it would be in Chicago for a day that has been plagued with sad memories for so long. Not only did my dad love musicals, but my mom and I both found comfort in the musical itself; me because of Alexander’s ability to rise above his circumstances, and my mom because of Eliza’s determination even as a widow and single mother.
I could almost feel my dad while I watched the musical. It was right up his alley,from the subject matter to the musical aspect. Lin Manuel Miranda wrote a true masterpiece that’s changed the way I grieve my father completely. Through his portrayal of Eliza Hamilton, I’ve learned that the best way to honor a deceased loved one is to preserve their legacy.
My father’s death has haunted me for years, but I finally view it as an inspiration to make him proud of me.