The Day My World Changed Forever
Everyone I know on facebook saw that we lost our dad the night of March 27, 2021. Although the official record declared his date and time of death to be March 28, 2021 at 7 a.m. when the medical examiner called it, I know he left us before midnight. No one can change my mind.
On the evening of March 27, 2021 at 8:04 pm I spoke with him and texted him at 7:54 pm for the last time. Earlier that week I called Piedmont to schedule my PetScan and blood draw. It was then I realized my father's birthday was on a Thursday. So we were considering later in the month until I saw that. It was perfect. I could go to my scan and then out to dinner with my parents to celebrate my fathers birthday. My parents may have divorced but the grandkids and my illness always brought them together and they truly had a deep unbreakable love and bond for one another.
I called my dad the evening of the 27th. When he answered, I shouted, "Guess who has a doctors appt on your birthday?" to which he replied, "me!" Both of us could be overly silly. I asked again and he finally got it right with "you!". I told him it was perfect. I could drive up to Atlanta Wednesday and we could go out to eat after my scans. I'll never forget how excited he was. We talked about some miscellaneous things, our conversations could be a bit morbid. I would tell him what I wanted when I died and he would do the same. That night he mentioned to me some things he wanted his granddaughters to have. I just took it as a regular conversation. He was very adamant about it, which was strange. It stuck in my head. I texted him a few hours after we talked, I needed his advice, I needed him, and he didn't reply. I called a few times because I knew he would answer or reply to my text. He always did. He's always worried about me, as has my mom, since I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer November 27, 2012. He would've answered or replied had he still been with us. But, I thought he would call me in the morning, he's been in a lot of pain.
So, at 5:04 a.m. the next morning my phone rang and it was my mom. Immediately, a wave of dread came over me. My mom would never call so early unless something was wrong. Through her sobs, she said, "Baby, you need to come home. It's your dad". I asked her if he was gone, and she said yes. She was sitting next to him and did so until they came to retrieve his body. He was still in the living room. His girlfriend had called my mom in a panic. My mom said it just looked like he went to sleep and she kept waiting on him to snore. She sat next to him and talked to him the whole time, about how she tried so hard to stop loving him but never could. She stayed until they carried him away. He never stopped loving her either, but he did that day. Which is why I'm going to add this ominous song which is the one that was playing when I cranked his car for the first time. It was the last song he listened to.
I grabbed clothes and threw them in a bag. It took my maybe 15 minutes to pack, funeral dress included, and I was on the road. My thoughts were everywhere. How could he die? We just made birthday plans and he was so excited. He wasn't in pain, he hadn't taken any pain pills. He was happy.
I made it to Atlanta in record timing and immediately went to my moms. My sister was driving down with my nieces from Quantico, VA where her husband, Patrick, a marine was going to join us the next day.
A lot of what happened after was a blur. My mom, sister, and I each had our own ways of handling this. I became numb to a point of sporadic crying when alone, whereas my sister was so emotional and my mom somewhere in-between. I think she was in shock. My sister and I had never experienced such a loss and before long were at each others throats. I look back now and regret that happened, but all of this brought us closer together than we have ever been. She did the planning, I had a fractured fibula.
My mom wanted to make sure he had a military funeral and between my sister and brother in law and his local American Legions, they made it happen She did an amazing job. I wrote the obituary and sifted through pictures for a slideshow. It took me 10 times the amount it should've in order to do anything.
My cousin, John Allen Mixon, came down and began helping my sister and me. I still can't find my favorite picture, I was about 10 and dancing on his toes at my aunt and uncles wedding. I can still see it in my head so maybe I'll sketch it before time erases it.
Who was John Falton Mixon?
My dad was the most interesting person I've ever known. Sometimes I would listen to his stories and think, "no way", but he never wavered when he told them. Always the same way. He wasn't lying. The stories he would tell and the sayings he would use, he seemed larger than life. All of my friends knew and loved him. After being honorably discharged from the Navy, he went on to be a red coat at Delta Airlines for 28 years. My mother worked for Eastern Airlines. The people that would request him to escort them out of the terminals were amazing. One example was John Gotti. Gotti only wanted my dad and they became acquaintances throughout the years.
He loved Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, George Jones and Elvis so much. We shared the love of Elvis's Blue Christmas when I was little. He told my mother at the age of 26 and me at the age of 74, "when I die, I want the song 'My Way' played. That was his song and that is the way he lived and died. His way.
I bought him a vinyl record player for his birthday. It now sits in my house as I listen to the old vinyl's of his favorites. One of my favorite Elvis is "Suspicious Minds". My father didn't trust many people. If he trusted you, you were good. He could tell in 5 minutes if someone was a "snake in the grass" or a good person.
A few of his sayings, "my my how the worm has turned" when something changed in his favor. When asking how he was feeling, his responses were, "hanging in there like a loose tooth", "if I felt any better I would have to be twins", "with my hands". Regardless of how much pain he was in, the man would always make you laugh. The life of the party. I can't even think of all the sayings right now. Always a smile on his face.
The first song I played on the record player was, "you'll never walk alone", which I didn't notice, just put on some Elvis, but found a video of us dancing at my wedding on his phone. That was our dance. It was perfect for me to hear at that point.
He shot a man in Florida trying to steal his car. He fought it and got off. His life wasn’t in danger He just didn’t want his car stolen 🤷♀️. He always carried "roscoe", his side piece. He carried it everywhere, almost going into the airport with it when I dropped him off. Roscoe belongs to Roy the Boy now if we can get our hands on it. That gun never left my dad and was always on the coffee table. We've been unable to find it.
He fought a midget intoxicated and was arrested for fighting a minor, although the midget got the better of him. A funny story I will share one day. He was in the Navy at the time and had a little too much to drink. He was recognized by another Delta employee 20 years later who had been in the same courtroom on the same day.
He had a temper (sometimes) and some people were frightened of him. My mom tells me I got his temper.... But the things he did were always to protect his family, friends, neighbors and country. There wasn't a thing he wouldn't do for us. He always wore a sportscoat and an American Flag pin. He always proudly flew his American Flag. If there ever was a patriot, it was him.
It was funny the things he kept from his younger years. There was one man that lived at the end of our cul-de-sac, my father despised him. I honestly think he ran background checks on everyone. Anyway, I loved basketball when I was younger. He put up a basketball hoop at the end of the road. I would love to go down there and play. My dad soon put a stop to that and had him take it down. For some reason this prompted a visit from the FBI (not the first). My dad apparently threatened him, my sister and I know why now. He was fired from teaching because he was in love with a 16 year old student and even told her parents he was! We read the transcripts my dad kept, not knowing how he got them. Apparently the guy was also in witness protection so had to be relocated because of my father's threats.
My sister and I are both sleuths like my father, just warning you this man is now the dean of a local Georgia University, I'll refrain from telling which one. I guess his past got buried.
He was also considered the protector, not only of his family, but of the neighborhood. Not many men would sit on their roofs for hours at a time dressed in disguise to watch out for the neighborhood hoodlums that destroyed our carved pumpkins. But when he caught them, he chased them into their house. He made these kids carve new pumpkins for the entire street. Those kids father even gave my dad their blessing.
And Now the Time Has Come
He outlived all of his siblings and most of his friends. He was down because he began feeling alone but always lived for his children and grandchildren. We were his life and there is nothing he wouldn't do for us. I was afraid I would pass before him and my mother. This weighed on me, it wasn't the natural order of things. We had a long talk several months before. I asked why he kept carrying on in so much pain and didn't just go be with the Lord. He responded, "because I have to watch out for you". I told him it was okay and that I would be okay. Some think that's selfish, but I could no longer see him in so much pain all of the time.
Now, I worry about my mom. They had each other when Brook and I moved away. And they took care of each other. She's alone up there now. Had I had the money, I would've bought my sister out of my dad's house and lived there. But Karley still has 2 years of school.
We just had another celebration of life for him at his favorite bar on his birthday. Although he didn’t drink, he loved the employees and locals and its a major hangout for delta employees. He also loved his American Legion and would always proudly drag my sister and I around introducing us to everyone.
It's taken me a long time to write this, and I still don't feel as I've done him justice. He's the man I loved most in my life and we had such a bond. My house is slowly becoming a shrine to him, lol. I even bought him a father's day gift I keep next to his urn. It's a 1929 World War 1 Navy hat. I hang out at the antique store way too much.
There was so much more to my father. Please feel free to share any stories on this post on fb, twitter, wherever. He would've loved the attention.
So, it's taken me a long time for acceptance to set in, I'm still sad but I'm not angry or in denial or anything like that anymore. I feel his presence with me.
My life has been a blur since March 28th. I couldn't even tell you what happened yesterday. I thought my experience with my friends who died of lung cancer over the past eight years could somehow prepare me, but nothing can prepare you for the loss of a genuine caring parent. I think God my mom is still here. And for all the parents out there who have loss children, I pray for the pain. I don't know how you do it, but GOD BLESS YOU. Anyway, I'll leave you with a bunch of photos and now will start blogging again. I was in too much pain to do so until now. Sorry for the novel.
But rest assured, he did it his way. He passed peacefully on his couch with his dog by his side. He went to sleep. His heart gave out. He always predicted he would do it his way....he did. Frank Sinatra nailed it.