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RIP Karl Emrich Eilers 1933-2019

• CATEGORIES: Features

My father passed away yesterday at the age of 85 after a week of family hospice care at his home of fifty-five years. He’d had a good, full life. The Navy veteran, long time Boeing Engineer, and, after retirement, Home Depot employee, struggled physically after his stroke in 2002, but it never dampened his will or drive.

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I took this pic just as the first basketball game started on Thursday. I had no idea it would be the last pic.

Before he passed on Thursday, Dad and I did something we’d never done. We turned on the March Madness basketball tournament at 9:30am and began watching March Madness together. I love basketball, so I thought I could share this with him (and I had control of the remotes). Though he likes sports, he always preferred football more.

Dad could no longer see the TV too well, so I ran the play-by-play scores by him and explained who was playing. He seemed to enjoy it. It was mostly just he and I as we rooted for the underdog teams as we juggled multiple games and channels. But, what he was really looking forward to was the 4pm game, which featured #1 seed Gonzaga, as that was his college Alma Mater.

Gonzaga is a Catholic school, but dad was no Catholic. In fact, I’d only learned the day before that while at Gonzaga, he got As and Bs in everything, except for the Ds he received in the religious classes. That sounded about right to me.

Just after 2pm on Thursday he decided, with his usual certainty and determination, that he was going to stand again and do a couple “pushups” (knee-bends using his walker). He hadn’t been out of bed in a week and a half, so we knew he was pretty week to be attempting this. His heart was only pushing about 20% of normal, due to heart failure, but, as he put it, “Goddammit”, he was going to do it. So, my wife, my mother and I helped him. He proceeded, with our help, to push himself off the bed twice.

By the second push, he was pretty tired, so we put him back into the bed. He immediately asked for my hand. That’s when I knew something was wrong, as he wasn’t one to hold my hand. Then, his breathing started to increase and a concern flashed across his eyes. While we soothed him, we could tell something had happened. He, of course, knew it, too.

The end came quickly and he suffered little. If he hadn’t been in the middle of dying, I am certain he would have appreciated the irony that a little exercise led to his passing, as loved to exercise, mostly lifting weights. Exercise made him feel alive most of his life, but in the end it led to his passing. I doubt he would have wanted it any other way.

We will miss him, but we are universally happy in his death. Between his stroke and increasing heart failure, he was a shell of his former self. At the end, he went out quickly and with dignity at home knowing he was loved (and with some gallows humor about the exercise). He was a good man and got what he deserved: PEACE.

PS…. for the record, Dad and I did share the Gonzaga game, though he showed little emotion as the Zags crushed their opponent, remaining pretty stiff throughout. It was only after the game that the funeral home came for the body. (I’m pretty sure dad is smiling, but shaking his head at me by this point).

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Summer of 1981. Dad and I at Milk Lake in the Cascade Mountains jeeping with our Jeep Club

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Dad and I in 2013.

 

 

93 Comments on “RIP Karl Emrich Eilers 1933-2019

  1. ROBERT L LIGHTFOOT

    It sounded like he was at peace. Eighty-four years is a good run to make a lot of memories. Condolences to you and family.

  2. NEAL JUNG

    dear sir , my sympathies to you and yours – old jeepers never die , they just rust away – I just went through the same thing you described 2 years ago with my father – he was 96 , pearl harbor navy survivor , uss hornet sinking survivor , the Japanese couldn’t kill him but old age and rust finally did – committed to the sea with my ww2 navy wave mother last year by the uss America off Catalina island – god rest your fathers and my parents souls . R.I.P.

  3. Tom Furrer

    Very Sorry for loss of your dad.
    I lost mine at 93 and cherish all the memories.
    God Bless you and your family
    Tom Furrer

  4. Marty Tilford

    Sorry to hear about him passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  5. Matt

    David, that was a very beautiful write up. Your father lived a long fulfilled life that we should all be so lucky to live. The memories will last forever. My condolences to you and your family.

  6. Ed Lee

    Your Father was a hell of a good man. Looking in the mirror you will be reminded of him all the remaining years of your life. It was wonderful that you were able to spend the final moments with him. This is all too often a cold and sterile part of life, yet you were able to allow him to pass in the dignity of his own home. And I am sure he had a much better view of the game than you did. God Bless

  7. Judy hillier

    Oh David, what a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man. You are a wonderful son, always there to help out with both Karl and Marge. They did a good job of raising you. I will miss your sweet dad, but know he is in a much better place. Love you guys. Griz

  8. Frank

    David,
    My family’s condolences for your loss. I lost my father many years ago as he was waiting for a heart operation. Unfortunately, I was unable to be there by his side and comfort him. You are blessed in that respect being with him.
    All the best to you and your family in these trying times,

    Frank
    Merlin, Oregon

  9. Sam Conley

    David,
    Your love and commitment to your father is a beautiful thing. My deepest sympathies to you and your family.
    Sam Conley
    Exeter, NH

  10. Karen Cohoe

    David, I know just how much your (and Ann’s) presence meant to your mom but especially to your dad as he passed. You chronical the moment so beautifully, especially keeping the Gonzaga game on with him still there in body. Our thoughts are for you, Ann, your mom and sister Kim as you adjust to life without that wonderful guy Karl/Dad. I am sure you all have fabulous memories to sustain you. Special hugs to your mom, Karen and Bruce Cohoe

  11. JW

    Dave, my sincerest condolences to you and your family. Thank you for sharing the last moments of your father’s incredible life with us and making us all feel like part of your family. May your father have fair winds and following seas, and find safe harbor with God.

  12. Frank

    Sorry to here about your Dad, David. Never easy to let go but sounds like it was time.
    Frank

  13. Frank Porfidio

    Deepest condolences my friend ……That’s a rough one , even though you KNOW it’s coming …..

  14. John Colwell

    Sorry for your loss but Thankful for you having a great dad that loved you and all the wonderful memories that you have of spending time with him. I lost my dad 14 years ago but love all the memories we shared with our Jeeps, hunting and life in general! I will keep you and your family in my prayers!

  15. john fitzpatrick

    My condolences to you and your family. you are a great tribute to your father, and he to you.
    God bless.
    sincere regards,
    John

  16. Craig in ME

    My thoughts are with you. I went through the same thing w/my dad in 2014 and now my mom seems to be in the same situation. I empathize with you and pray you find peace in all the memories of him. Never easy losing a loved one no matter what the situation….

  17. Jerry Steber

    My condolences on the loss of your Dad. May he always live in your heart Dave with the fond memories.

    Jerry Steber

  18. Bob

    Sorry to hear about this David. I know it’s a natural thing but that still makes it no easier.

  19. Matt from MI

    Dave, I am so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

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