On Friday, April 11, 1975, my dad went to the hospital for a colonoscopy. Back then, medical technology was not as advanced as it is now. Today, that procedure involves having a tube inserted into your body with a small camera at the tip, and the doctor looks inside using a computer monitor. The entire procedure takes a couple of hours from preparation to release, and the procedure can take place in the doctor’s office. But in 1975 my dad was admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay.
My dad was my best friend. I went to visit Dad that evening. He had completed the procedure without complications and was resting comfortably in his private room. I was somewhat concerned because he was in a private room without any heart monitors. He had experienced a mild heart attack when I was in fifth grade, and I knew he had ongoing coronary issues, but he seemed so alert and confident that I didn’t mention my trepidation to anyone. I was glad he was doing well.
The next morning, I was scheduled to fly to Chicago for a week to attend a significant fund-raising event for the organization I worked for. I stopped by the hospital to see my dad on the way to the airport. When I arrived at his hospital room, he was not in his bed. I assumed they had moved him to another room, but the truth was that the anesthesiologist had given my dad too much anesthesia for his procedure the day before, and it had induced a heart attack afterwards, causing his death.
Even though I had been in near-death situations during my brief life, death took on a brand-new meaning for me on that day. Looking back over the long years since then, I would say death became the ultimate no life could say.