In memoriam: William Kendell Hooks, Jr, MD (1928-2015)

My father died this morning, about 2 weeks after entering a hospital with difficulty breathing.

I visited him that evening and was asked to review his chest x-ray by the ER physician, and I felt that he had not so much pneumonia as had been suspected by his chronic care facility but something called compressive atelectasis, related to bowel distension. Eventually, in the course of attempting to insert a tube into his stomach a perforation occurred, extending to his spleen and requiring emergency surgery.

Several days later, he drifted into history.

He gave me life, as all fathers do. The gifts he gave me since then were priceless- the example he was, his quiet determination to provide us with the opportunity to engage life without severe disadvantages and obstacles, his ability to deal with adversity with dignity, and his affinity for the ocean and for music.

There was so much more. I’m going to talk with him tomorrow for the last time before he is to be cremated, and my sister Laurie and I are planning a memorial service for him.

For the rest of my life, whenever I look out on the ocean anywhere in the world I will tell myself: Hello, dad. It’s so good to see you again. Don’t sail away just yet.

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