James Strachan 1920-2004

At our little informal gathering, we sat there in Dad's living room and shared thoughts and stories in a simple way. Whoever wanted to say something, just did so. My brother Jim told the most recent one, that of my father's last words.
Dad had been preparing a meal for those of the Shasta 'collective' (my sister & family, my brother and wife, a couple of visiting grandkids etc. .) who were coming to his place for dinner on the day he started to go down. He liked to make his own enchiladas. He was very good about feeding everyone. And very particular about how he wanted things done.
That morning he had been out for a drive somewhere with the visiting grandkids. He had started a batch of enchiladas before leaving and was going to finish them off later that afternoon. He never got the chance. With a big headache and feeling really sick, he made it back home to have a rest. My brother Jim showed up about the same time to find that he was getting bad and they headed off to the hospital.
Once there, surrounded by the available family members, he slipped in and out of lucidity as he struggled with the stress of his cerebral hemorrhaging.
Between moans of pain and retching, he managed to call out, mostly to his granddaughter Kelly who was one of those at his bedside: ". . You have to put them in at 350 for thirty minutes!". . . More groans and retching, then, coming back up through the delirium: ". . And you take off the tent after twenty minutes!". . Goes down again with the stress of it all and comes back again with:
". . And don't forget the cheese on top!" . . . then:

And that was it, he didn't come back up out of his last struggle.
Amazing. . . Who knows what it will be for any of us, those last thoughts that are foremost in our minds, just as we are leaving. For my father, it was that he wanted to ensure that his last effort at keeping the clan fed was done properly.
What an amazing guy.
A day or so later, they eventually ate the enchilada dinner (following the directions, of course). Knowing I was going to soon be there, they saved one for me. It became known as 'The Last Enchilada', the phrase becoming a sort catch cry for that special time. Upon my arrival, I did eat The Last Enchilada. It was delicious.

February 5, 2004