I'm finding a sliver of solace in our last conversation. We got to say goodbye the night before he died in his sleep.
It started before I had crossed the familiar threshold that was his hospital room door.
"Don't forget to pay my AT&T bill. They owe me a partial refund, so you'll have to do the math," he called out in my general direction.
"I'm pretty good at math because of you, remember? I'll take care of everything," I said. He sighed, relieved. (His worries mounted so much in the end that I would visualize lifting "worry plates" off his table. It was my job—clear the table.)
I changed the subject by reminiscing about the countless times he and his brother took my cousin, Missy, and me ice skating when we were kids on frozen Lake Ellyn in Glen Ellyn, a quaint western suburb of Chicago.
"We had fun, didn't we?" he allowed, between labored breaths—he got pneumonia while recovering from a broken hip.
"We did, dad."
I considered adding ... "until high school," but didn't.
He was so tired, he was having a hard time keeping his eyes open.
"You've taken care of so many people for so long," I whispered, willing back the tears, squeezing him back to life by grasping his hand. "Why don't you rest?"
"Would that be alright with you?" he asked, just before closing his eyes.
And it was.