Robert Williams Kirkpatrick
August 11th 1947-June 7th 2015
Engineer, inventor, father, husband, story teller, man of piss and vinegar to his last breath
My dad was a great story teller, and I don’t want to tell a sad story here.
He fought with unprecedented will, and will always be remembered for his fierce determination, sense of humor, and being a man who does things his own way.
He died on Sunday afternoon at 12:54 pm. He had been under palliative sedation for nearly a week because the pain was so great that medicine could not really touch it anymore, not for any length of days anyway, and we knew the worst was yet to come.
I tried to imagine what the moment of his death would be like. My dad and I talked about this many times over the last year or so, commenting to one another that it would be nice if it ended in some poetic way…just falling asleep, drifting gently after a number of satisfying last moments that we imagined. The reality was, because of the way his pain had been growing exponentially, we expected his last moments to be less than poetic.
I had been giving my dad medication to keep him comfortable every 2 hours, watching his breathing, checking his vitals, waiting to watch a horrible ending. Sunday afternoon I was sitting in his room working on my computer and I felt strongly compelled to put on one of his favorite songs: Pink Floyd’s “shine on you crazy diamond” from their album Wish You Were Here. It seemed fitting on so many levels. Bassist Roger Waters commented while recording this song that “at times the group was there only physically. Our bodies were there, but our minds and feelings somewhere else.” If you know the song, parts I-III are instrumental, and part IV is where the lyrics come in. This takes a while, about 8.5 minutes. I told Karen that I put the song on, she came in to the room, sat down with me, and we held his hands. Toward the end of the instrumental, as I held my dad’s hand, I told him that I loved him so much, and many other things that I don’t need to write here. He took two, sweet last breaths and almost looked like he was smiling, and then he died. Just then in the background Roger Waters began to sing:
“Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun,
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there’s that look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky,
Shine on you crazy diamond”
So his dying was horrible, but his death was almost magical. It is silly to say, but after all of the worrying, talking, laughing, crying and wondering what it would be like, it is just too bad that he is gone, because he would have loved this story.