. . . "I did not know it at the time but my father had gotten irritated with me in 2013 when I published my last book. In that book, I mentioned that an atheist father and a fundamentalist mother had raised me. Apparently, Dad objected to the reference strongly enough to approach my mother and say, “Mike called me an atheist. I’m not an atheist. I’m an agnostic!” In retrospect, it appears that a crack had emerged in the armor of the man who in 1975 refused my mother’s request to attend my baptism with the emphatic declaration, “There is no God!”
"Apparently, the crack in the armor had also grown with time. In fact, just days before I arrived in Houston to have my last conversation with dad, mom had seen evidence of his change of heart. It was revealed in what would be her last conversation with him. In that conversation, she was telling my dad that she wanted the poem, “When I Must Leave You,” to be read at her funeral. Then she read the poem to him, which ends with this line:
And never, never be afraid to die.
For I am waiting for you in the sky.
"Upon hearing it, my father turned to my mother and said, “I know that I’m dying, Marilyn.” He paused and then he added, “I’ll wait for you.” Those were the last words he ever spoke to his wife of 62 years." . . .