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Thanks to Minot police

Gregg Smith, Minot

July 17th was one of the worst days of my life. My dad had a rough week, we were in and out of the ER twice that Tuesday and Wednesday.

It turned out he had some kind of a urinary tract infection. In the hospital they gave him IV antibiotics and pain meds and sent us home. He seemed fine.

Thursday morning I picked him up, took him to his hearing test, we had breakfast, I let him rest that afternoon and then later brought him my wife’s vegetable soup for dinner. He ate, didn’t love it, he said, but he ate a bowl. I left and called to check on him at 9 p.m.; he was in good spirits and said he was fine.

I asked him if he wanted to sleep at our house, he said no, he was comfortable in his chair and would see me in the morning for his urology appointment. I called him at 7 a.m. I always called him every morning. No answer, but he might have been in the bathroom. Called again, no answer 15 minutes later. We called 3 more times and I knew something was wrong.

I rushed over and found him lying in front of the kitchen sink, having passed away sometime during the early morning. I hope no one has to experience this in their lives, the guilt, sadness and what if’s come crashing in. I had my wife call 911, they came in less than 10 minutes. They told me what I already knew that he was gone.

The EMTs were kind, they said they thought the infection had probably overwhelmed his heart, and there was nothing I could have done to prevent what had happened. Then the police came in. They were polite, nice and professional. They had an investigation to perform and they asked me a bunch of questions, then I had to go out into the hallway as they continued the investigation. I saw my wife in the hallway crying, and I wondered why she hadn’t come in. The police officer in the hallway was Sgt. Foley. He calmly and politely explained he wasn’t going to let my wife go inside and have the last image of the man she thought of as her dad for the last 35 years seen in that way. He said he wished he could have prevented me from having that image, but he couldn’t. He was right, it’s an image I will never forget, a pain I can’t explain.

I have seen death many times. I served 20 years in the military, watched my sister, brother, and mother die. I am a pastor, I have been with parishioners as their loved ones have died. I know what to expect, but this took me by surprise. I am so grateful Sgt. Foley did what he did. That image doesn’t need to haunt her like it does me. I know the image will fade in time, I have many great memories of my dad and I, but I also know it will never completely go away. We then engaged in conversation with Sgt. Foley, he was funny, and kind and he was trying his best to make a very sad experience a little less sad.

He didn’t have to do any of that, but the kindness of his heart was trying to spare us as much pain as possible. The police officers who worked with him were just the same, professional, courteous and kind. I expect them to be the professional and courteous, but being kind is a decision that comes from the heart. It can’t be taught, it’s who we are as people. We either are or we’re not. This isn’t a political letter, it has nothing to do with Black Lives Matter, All Lives matter or any other category of lives that matter. It’s a simple thank you letter to a group of people who in the course of their extremely difficult jobs decided to be more than professional and courteous, but kind.

I have tears as I am writing this, partly because I’m sad because I miss my dad, but also because I’m grateful I live in a town where our police department cares about the citizens they are sworn to protect, and they can exhibit kindness in the most difficult of situations. Thank you Sgt. Foley, and the officers who worked with you at around 8:30 a.m. who responded to the Dakota Terrace apartments on Friday, July 17th, 2020. I will never forget you and the kindness you showed to us on one of the worst days of my life.

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