Over Thanksgiving, our family gathered at my mom and dad’s house in Barrington, Rhode Island. While we never openly talked about it (welcome to an Irish Catholic family), we were all thinking the same thing: these were my father’s final days. The four young grandchildren weren’t fully aware of what was happening, but they knew it was a special, somber time when my dad said goodbye to each one of them. It was the most difficult holiday of my life. My father was unable to eat solid food. While we sat as a family in the dining room eating takeout turkey, my dad was upstairs in his bed fading in and out, taking nourishment through a tube twice a day and wanting what he couldn’t have—to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with his family. It was painful to watch him fade. We had stayed close over the years, and I had often called him to share stories and debate the news. That was all coming to an end.
My father’s immune system was highly vulnerable. And to make matters worse, the kids started getting sick, one after another. When my mother, the consummate caregiver, succumbed to the flu, we knew we had to get help.
We also needed to isolate the sick kids. Rebecca and I searched online to find a nearby hotel (let’s just say that the choices on Route 6 in nearby Seekonk, Massachusetts, are limited). My brother, Ryan, and my sister-in-law, Emma, decided that she would drive their sick child back to their home in Scarsdale, New York.
For my dad, we looked for home care, nurses, you name it, but none of these are easily found for a one-to-two-night, last-minute emergency. Thinking I was out of options, I remembered an old political buddy, Ben Marchi, who was now in the business of senior in-home care in Maryland. Ben called the Rhode Island franchise of the business and got us a night nurse—who turned out to be a godsend. We also called Father Barry Gamache, the pastor of St. Mary’s church in Bristol, Rhode Island, to administer the last rites; we didn’t know how long my father would live. Rebecca drove our kids back to our home in Alexandria, Virginia, sensing that it would be a matter of days before she would be called to return to Rhode Island. My sister Shannon and brother Ryan were at the house with my parents, so I decided to return briefly to New York to work with the transition team.
The morning after I arrived in New York, I did a few television interviews and hoped to work through the day and take the 5:00 p.m. train back to Rhode Island. As I wrapped up a 9:00 a.m. interview, I got a text from my brother. He asked me if I could catch the next train. Given how busy I was, my first instinct was to ask him why—but in my heart, of course, I knew.
I rushed to Penn Station and took the next train. The three hours between New York and Providence were long and tough, as I knew that life for my family, particularly my mom, was never going to be the same. Many memories of my father filled my mind. I recalled how, on election night, my dad had called to tell me how proud he was of me and our victory. I listened to the handful of voicemails I had saved that simply said, “Hi, it’s your dad, just calling to say, ‘Hi, I love you.'” In the coming months, often after tough days, I would put my headphones in my ears and play the voicemails to hear his voice.
When I arrived at the train station in Providence, my uncle Paul Grossman was waiting for me. I tried to read his face to gauge the situation, but Paul didn’t know any new developments.
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Source: Christian Post