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Richard William Becker

[This entry was originally posted on my MySpace blog. It was transferred to WordPress on 1/20/2013.]

On Monday night, around 11:00 p.m., my stepdad’s breathing slowed, becoming more shallow until he subsided.  He was 63.  He hadn’t been in good health for quite some time.  He was diabetic and he had chronic back problems.  A few months ago, he was diagnosed with lung disease and was finding it difficult to walk from the living room to the kitchen without becoming winded.  He never smoked a day in his life.  He served the Jamestown fire department for over thirty years beginning in 1969. 

The smoke inhalation from firefighting is what eventually caught up with his lungs.  Just a couple weeks ago, my mother contacted me saying that he was in a Fargo hospital being treated for pneumonia and other complications.  He was then diagnosed with lung cancer.  They gave him a couple months to live.  He said that he’d see the leaves come in, but not turn colors.  Then things happened very quickly.  He didn’t respond well to the chemo and the cancer had spread rapidly and vastly.  His condition was downgraded severely and it was said that he wouldn’t see his home in Jamestown again.

But boy, did he want to.  They had said he wasn’t well enough to travel from Fargo, but he saw to it.  He fought and at one point the doctor even referred to him as a miracle.  His condition improved just enough to get him home and get a little make-shift hospital set up at the house.  In between hallucinations in which he thought he was aboard a cruise ship, he expressed to my mother that he was very glad to be in his home.  And everyone thinks she made the right decision in bringing him home.  He lost consciousness not long after coming home and slipped away on Monday night.

I didn’t always get along with the guy.  We had our differences.  Sometimes he could be horribly offensive, but dammit, aside from that, he made my mother a happy woman.  I got to know him a little better over the years (they got married in 1997) and I warmed up to him considerably.  He knew I didn’t really trust him at first, and he kept a respectable distance.  He said that were he in my position, he’d feel the same way.  But I got over it.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to let him know that myself.  I asked my mother to relay the message to him in the hospital, which she did.  But I was always massively appreciative of the help he provided to both my sisters and me.  He was a big believer in siezing opportunity and he assisted me with my trips to England, my trip to New York, and a bit last year when I went to France.

I wrote a song a long time ago, in 1997, called “Potatoes & Cream”.  There was a line in it that says, “Fireman, come and rescue me / From the horrid torment of putting up with me / Take me down that big ol’ ladder and on a shopping spree / To a place where there’s no sales and nothing comes free.”  It was about my stepdad.  It was about wanting him and me to get along and have some tiny semblance of a father/son-like relationship.  He did it too.  When he married my mom, I was welcomed into his home, into his family.  He provided me with a LOT over the years, and I will always be grateful.

This morning, around 8:00 a.m., I had a dream that an old friend of mine passed me a note in class.  I unfolded it and it said “Comfort and strength come to those who ask for it.”  My friend smiled and in my dream, I showed the note to Liza.  As she read it, my phone began to ring in real life.  I recognized it as my mother’s ring and I woke, knowing what the call was, and knowing that my God was willing to give us all strength and comfort.  Say what you want about God speaking through dreams, I believe he does.

I took a nap in the afternoon and I dreamed I was trapped in a room with massive flames licking the walls and no escape.  I could feel the heat burning against my face and the door burst open.  A great gust of cool calmed the room and my stepdad stood in the doorway.  He looked me in the eye and smiled.  He walked out of the doorway and I awoke.

Toward the end, he was never sad.  The nurses all said he was cheering THEM up through all the procedures and treatments.  He kept a joking attitude and he wasn’t feeling pain.  He left us peacefully and calmly and painlessly.  He left us in his sleep, perhaps feeling the same comfort in his dreams that I was reminded of in mine.

Richard William “Dick” Becker
July 30, 1942 – March 13, 2006

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