Why you gotta do me like that, Milholland?

This comic is a bit distressing. Davan, the character holding the green present, received it from his recently deceased father. I really did not need this reminder.

On the morning of 26 December, 27 years ago, I got the phone call from my mother that my dad had died in his sleep the night before. So I’ve been there.

I’d called on Christmas day, of course, and mainly talked with my mother. I would have talked to Dad, but he was in the midst of cooking their Christmas dinner — always a big deal for him — and when Mom called him to the phone, he was too busy, and he just yelled his last words to me:

“Goddamn cat! Get down from there!”

I have tried to live my life by those words of wisdom ever since. One needs a credo, and I should remember to pass on something equally significant to my offspring during our holiday calls.


  1. Rich Woods says

    My dad’s last words to me were also over the phone. He said, “OK, two days’ delay won’t matter.” The next time the phone rang it was my mum saying she couldn’t wake him up.

  2. Amy Peterson says

    I lost my dad in November of this year, so I felt this. Was a really rough holiday/birthday (the 24th) this year.

  3. William George says

    My dad died three days before my flight back to Canada. I knew it was coming because he had gone into palliative that week, but still… We did get to chat via video conference a few times when he was lucid and had the energy. I guess that’s one good thing I can say about FaceBook.

  4. azalin34 says

    Six years ago, I received a phone call from my step-sister a little before 7AM on Nov 13, as I was getting ready for work. My father had collapsed in the shower and couldn’t be resuscitated less than an hour earlier.
    It was the day after Remembrance Day, when I usually called him and we’d talk about Grandpa (who’d passed four years prior) and his exploits during WWII. For some reason, I’d decided to put off calling Dad that year, so I missed my last opportunity to talk with him.
    I don’t recall the last thing he said to me. I’ll wager it was a phone call with him asking for computer help, but he probably signed off the call with “love you”. So I guess I have that.
    We weren’t particularly close (we generally only talked once or twice a year), but it still sucks losing your parents.

  5. says

    The pain of loss doesn’t have to stay that way. It can be turned into good memories.

    One of my close friends from college lost his dad one fall. He and his brother were devastated. Thirty years on, my friend cares about his kids the same way his own dad did. He turned into his father, with a great marriage and family. The only difference being, he’s now almost 50, older than his dad who had died far too young.

  6. captainjack says

    My Dad died the end of June. He’d broken his hip from falling out of bed in May and caught COVID in the hospital after surgery. He actually recovered from the virus but all the stress did him in. He was 100 and died in his sleep, in his own bed, in his own home, with his kids there. Not a bad end.

  7. xmnr says

    My dad died in April of 2016. He’d been in a rehab center, and been recently moved to assisted living, where he wasn’t doing well. We were living out-of-state, and he didn’t do well on the phone, so the burden of everything, including communicating for him fell to my brother. The night he died, I thought my brother was calling about moving him to a more care-intensive environment.

    Dad’s last words to me, while he was still in the rehab place and we were leaving to return to Florida, where, “wait, you’re leaving me here?”

    Don’t think that doesn’t stick.

  8. says

    My father’s wife didn’t even let us know of his death. We only found out after we had the local cops do a welfare check as we had not been able to reach him by phone. It was fortunate that we learned he passed as I wasn’t surprised when I got his cremains in the mail the next day.

  9. whheydt says

    My father died in June 1975 of a heart attack that could probably could have survived, had it been 20 years later. He was 65. My mother (today is her birthday…26 Dec 1912), lived (to within a month) another 30 years, dying on 4 July 2005. The more tragic death was the older of my two sisters, who died in 2010, 14 months after being diagnosed with ALS.

    At this point, I’m 6 years older than my father was when he died.

  10. wajim says

    @#7: XM, it all sticks, forever. Mine was 43 years ago, when I was 16. No surprise, as he had Multiple System Atrophy and it too five years for the inevitable. Funny thing, his last words to me were a raised middle finger as he gasped for his last breaths in his critical care unit. I see it as his bravado now, perhaps his last lesson for me (perhaps to make myself feel better) as he was a Korean War vet, a sergeant of a flame thrower squad (back when they still had such horrors) and saw far more death up close than I will ever see (I hope). Part of why I am an atheist now, even as he was a Southern Baptist believer

  11. says

    The final thing always said between my parents, my siblings, my spouse and myself is always I love you. No matter the argument or the time of day. I grew up around 1% Outlaw MC and Vietnam vets, a long life was not in the cards for anyone.

    On February 4th, 2016 my dad called me as my husband was recovering from surgery. he was going into hospice and he knew he wasn’t coming back out. I was able to make it up on February 7th (my husband recovered enough I could leave him and drive the 150 miles north). He was unconscious but I crawled in the bed beside him and hugged him, telling him I loved him. He came to, told me he was proud of me and my husband, that he loved us both. He then slid back into unconsciousness and passed a couple days later (I only left to sleep and eat and was back watching).

    Fast forward 5 months later, on my parent’s 47 wedding anniversary my mom had gotten sick and was in hospice herself. She waited to pass until that day, she had been talking about that for all five months. I visited with her, hugged her and told her I loved her and she passed not long after I went home to sleep (it could be days, so my siblings and I traded off). I am fortunate we had already said we loved each other.

    It happened with three close friends of the family, different situations, I would hug them goodbye, tell them I love them and the next thing I would find out is they were gone.

    Never leave your friends and family hanging. Even if you had an argument, or if you are sure you will see them tomorrow, let them know you love them. I have never regretted that habit and I am eternally grateful my dad insisted on what I thought was something stupid as a child (he lost a lot of friends in Vietnam and that is where he picked it up).

    Just tell them you love them, every single time.

  12. John Morales says


    Just tell them you love them, every single time.

    Never understood that sentiment about formulaic proclamations of what is already known.

    I mean, if someone loves me and tells me so, they hardly need to tell me so every time we meet. After the first few times, I would get the message.

    (Are other people that different, that they desire such pointless reiteration?)

  13. Rich Woods says

    @John Morales #12:

    Some people find the reiteration especially helpful in times of ultimate stress and fear. I never have, but I can understand it. Personally I tend to resort to denial of the inevitable at that near-final moment, if only for a few seconds before remembering that it won’t change a damned thing. Then I switch to gallows humour. So far (n=a small integer) that’s done more good than harm, regardless of whether the dying person is religious or not. Or maybe I’ve just gone and killed people with laughter. If so, I can live with that.

  14. PaulBC says

    Rich Woods@13 I agree, and more pragmatically, the point might be “I [still] love you [in case you were starting to wonder].” How’d Paul Simon put it?

    Some people never say those words
    I love you
    But like a child they’re longing
    To be told

    Many people do wonder I think and it helps, whether in times of stress or any other time.

  15. John Morales says

    Rich, I don’t dispute anything you’ve said, but it doesn’t get to my point.

    I mean sure, there are times and places, but agirlushouldknow advocates adopting the habit unconditionally. Just in case.

    I mean, I can immediately see downsides.
    For example, were I to make it a habit, pretty soon it would be expected of me, and were I to fail to adhere to my habit, it would be seen as somehow significant

    (“What, you don’t love me any more?”)

    I guess it’s some combo of avoiding the supposed regret of having failed to say it if the person to whom it would have been said died before one could meet them again, and the thought that the person to whom it might have been said will die thinking that it is a shame that the last thing the person they think of said to them was not it.

    Some weird emotional “insurance policy” type of thing.

  16. John Morales says


    Many people do wonder I think […]

    If they’re already wondering, the habitual and formulaic “I love you” probably isn’t that convincing. If they’re not, it’s not needful.

  17. PaulBC says

    John Morales@17 I think you’re overcomplicating this. Words aren’t just for communicating, and people are really different about this kind of thing (as you asked in @12).

  18. John Morales says


    I think you’re overcomplicating this.

    Nah, just responding to my comment’s responses.
    Addressing the rationalisations adduced therein.

    Basically, I have to intellectualise it, since I personally feel that sentiment.

    What part of “Never understood that sentiment” is complicated?

  19. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @12:

    Are other people that different…

    Yes, many. IIRC, you turned 60 recently. How can you possibly have reached that age and not know this?

    …that they desire such pointless reiteration?

    Pointless to you.

  20. John Morales says


    How can you possibly have reached that age (60) and not know this?

    I didn’t write I didn’t know (some) people feel that way, I wrote that I didn’t understand the feeling. Like goddism, for example.

    I can’t tell the difference between such sentiments and LARPing, except by inference. Surely they’re just affectations, I want to think, but alas… it looks like they really believe their fantasies, they really have these ridiculous imaginary needs. I find it peculiar, however normal it may be for those so afflicted.

    I do tire of these silly emotional nostrums that get bandied about as if they were a good thing, rather than as something to appease some perceived emotional need.

    Pointless to you.

    I doubt I’m somehow unique in that respect.

    Look, here is the nostrum, again:
    “Just tell them you love them, every single time.”

    Every. Single. Time.

    I’ve already inferred what I think is the point @15: “I guess it’s some combo of [blah]”. Avoidance of those consequences.

    Where am I wrong in that estimation?

  21. PaulBC says

    John Morales@22 I think for many people, it’s the verbal equivalent of a hug or similar sign of affection. This doesn’t seem super-difficult to understand, even if I don’t necessarily feel it. It’s not really a matter of conveying new information, though as I suggested, it might be adding confidence to old information.

    Maybe we are using the word “understand” differently. E.g., I couldn’t care less about professional sports. I can still imagine myself to be kind of person who does and hypothetically put myself in the situation of having it matter whether some team or other wins. (And when my daughter was playing softball, I could actually care, to be honest, but the feeling goes away pretty fast.)

    I think I can “understand” why a dog gets really excited at the appearance of a squirrel and chases it up a tree. I don’t personally get excited and chase animals up trees.

    More pragmatically, my politics are liberal, but I definitely “get” conservatives. I think they’re wrong, but I can say, OK if these were my values, gender-policing public restrooms might be more important to me than universal access to healthcare. If I couldn’t run these kinds of simulations in my head, every day would be a new mystery to me (and not in a fun way).

    Again, it could be that you are going for a much deeper level of understanding than I am.

  22. John Morales says

    It’s not really a matter of conveying new information, though as I suggested, it might be adding confidence to old information.

    cf. #17.

    Again, it could be that you are going for a much deeper level of understanding than I am.

    Dunno about that, I don’t think it’s that complicated.

    One should say “I love you” when departing from loved ones in case one never sees them again.
    Because then, presumably fewer regrets upon the possible death of the loved one before a reunion.

    What a way to go through life, though!

    Anyway, no biggie. Everyone can do as they wish, even if it’s acting on an imprudent hasty generalisation as some sort of social obligation.

    (Obviously, those who love me don’t harass me thus)

    Hey chigau. I love you.

  23. Rich Woods says

    @John Morales #15:

    Yeah, sorry, I did miss your point. I think that reading about everyone’s experiences here had left me in a bit of a dark mood and focusing only on the aspects of death, doom and desolation rather than anything that mattered. ;-)

  24. says

    Well, my parents are still alive, but my father gave us a good scare in autumn when his doctor found something in his EKG he didn’t like at all and sent him to the hospital straight away, bringing up all the memories of his father dying suddenly of heart failure at about my father’s age and his younger brother dying of heart failure just a few years ago. Thankfully nothing showed up on the more invasive tests in hospital.
    Having had several family members die I know there’s always an easy way and a hard way, but it’s always both, just from different perspectives. The family members who died suddenly? It devastated us, as we were not prepared at all. When my other grandpa died at 89 we were shocked, as there hadn’t been any preparation (though he’d been in hospital, but he was in hospital regularly, usually annoying all the medical staff who just couldn’t cure any and all of his ailments). I remember bursting into tears for several days afterwards whenever anything reminded me of him.
    When my grandma, his wife died (ironically at 89, too), she’d been dying a long time. My sister had cared for her at home, and with her dementia getting worse and worse, her body had been giving up piece by piece for years. The last months she’d only been lying in bed, with us taking turns at feeding her. When she finally died it was a relief for everyone involved, there were no tears left for anyone to cry.

  25. unclefrogy says

    I liked the way Tolkien described the elves faces with kind of a sadness in their eyes from having seen so many fair things pass from this life. I Have had many fair things I knew and love pass from this life as well, the longer I am here the longer the list becomes.
    It gives the relationships with the lives I know now a quality I do not remember they had when I was young. Not to say a preciousness but a feeling of fleeting time that I cannot hold onto no matter how hard I try. In fact holding on hard while they change just makes things feel worse and does not delay much of anything.
    So I understand what Tolkien meant and still I live though some are gone some remain.
    uncle frogy