Dealing With Death

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

                 I’m going to try to not go maudlin here, but it’s hard not to when all points seem to be leading to my father not being around much longer. I managed to see him almost every day of the two weeks I was out there except for the three days my brother and I went down to Redlands, about 400 miles away from San Francisco, to clear out his storage space. My dad said little, slept a LOT, would even doze off while I was talking to him. He was hardly eating, as his digestive system was failing on him, and to relieve his constipation required either enemas or the “manual plunger.” He’s rarely out of bed except maybe on the nicer days, when he gets wheeled outside to catch a bit of sunlight. One difference I also noticed, and maybe it happens to all old people, but he was always very hairy on his chest, back, legs, and arms. Now all that hair is gone, and I honestly don’t know what biologically happens to cause that. He doesn’t have cancer, so rule that one out.

                On the more positive note, it was a triumph that my brother and I were able to empty that storage space as expediently as we did. It took 1 1/2 days of searching through probably 100 boxes, of bringing two truckloads of stuff to the Goodwill store, then another truckload to recycling, and finally, bringing one load back up north, which included a piano that three of us were actually able to load onto the truck without any injuries to us OR the piano. Amidst all that work, we still managed to find time to see my ex-wife Lisa and my ex-partner Monica, and to have some excellent Soul Food barbecue that I hadn’t had since I moved to England.

               The other plus to that whole So-Cal trip was finding old photos and correspondence from the 1940’s that we didn’t know existed. There were letters between my dad and his dad (who died in 1951) when my dad was overseas in WWII. We brought some of those things to his hospital room the night we got back, and reading those letters to him and letting him see himself as he looked about 67 years ago turned out to be very therapeutic. For that one hour we were with him, he seemed happy and responsive, and didn’t piss and moan when it was time for us to leave. He merely said he loved us, and we returned the sentiment.

                  The day before I returned to England, I spent the bulk of the day with him, and though he slept most of the time I was there, he was awake when I left. My (likely) final words to him were the Big Three, which I hardly ever said to him until recent years. It just became easier to say as we got older. That moment eclipsed the gigs, the socializing, my first Giants’ game in 6 years (big disappointment, but at least the weather was nice), and the wonderful food I hadn’t tasted since I was there in January. Though there’s still a possibility my dad will still be around when I return in September, I feel I have said the necessary good-byes and avoided a whole lot of tears in the process. If he IS still around then, he may not be communicating at all. In the meantime, Philip Seff is one of the most real people I’ve ever known, and even though his outspokenness sometimes annoyed and embarrassed me, he was still a devoted father who was there for me whenever I needed him. I will indeed miss him. 


2 Responses to “Dealing With Death”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    My mother was very sick for six years. I travelled to San Luis Obispo every 2 weeks to be with her, help her take her to the doctor. There were many scares, and hospital stays. I couldn’t bear the thought of her being gone When the time came, I wanted to be there, and I was. She brought me into the world, I wanted to see her out. It’s been almost 4 years now, I still miss her so much. she went on ahead. She is in my heart, always, I still feel like I want to call her and tell her something, or just give her a big hug. Thanks for sharing, Brian. I know.

  2. Deb Says:


    I think the important thing in this blog for me was your acknowledgement that Phil was real, authentic and spoke his mind, no matter what anyone thought. I appreciate and admire him for that. During his life he had triumphs and a lot of disappointments, but he knows that he has left a legacy of two sons and two grandchildren who are doing well and living their truth as good people.
    He lives on forever in all of your hearts.

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