Dying Veteran Asks His Daughter to Do This One Thing for When He’s “Gone” – What She Did Instead Shocked Him
When her father was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic and liver cancer, Stacy Dombalis knew the Marine Captain veteran was living on borrowed time.
After a series of “hard discussions” with her dying father, including what he wanted for his funeral service, Stacy Dombalis had a bright idea for how to honor her father’s wishes…while he was still alive.
When his daughter told him to a expect a phone call from a friend out on his patio, the former Marine Captain Marsh had no idea what was in store for him. Stacy helped her elderly father, who has trouble walking, to sit in a rocking chair outside for some fresh air, while he waited for a call…little did he know what was in store for him.
She Tricked Him Into Thinking He Was Waiting for a Phone Call
Stacy’s plan all started when her father was adamant about having bagpipes play at his funeral service, when he was gone. “He said, ‘Of course, I want bagpipes,'” said Stacy Dombalis, but the request kept her wheels turning. “And I couldn’t sleep that night thinking about that. I thought, ‘Gosh, what can I do that we could have some happiness and enjoy something instead of all these sad and hard talks?’ And I thought, ‘I wonder if I could find a bagpiper.'”
Stacy shared the instrument has such a meaningful tenor for her father, because it reminds him of his years in the service and those who sacrificed their lives on the frontlines for their country. This devoted daughter searched high and low on a vendor marketplace for a musician who could serenade her father the very next day! It was the talented, Michael Crawley — a musician whose entire family has played the bagpipes for generations — who answered the call.
As the bag pipes start to play, the former Marine Captain veteran gets visibly emotional and but it’s what he did next that shocked everyone.
Richard Marsh is so moved by the music, he musters up the strength to stand up on his own two feet, and salute his fellow man. Stacy commented on how remarkable of a feat this was, as her father has great difficulty moving without assistance. But this time he did it all on his own.
“When he saw Michael come around the corner is his full gear with the bagpipes that was when my dad stood up at attention, just beautiful to watch.”Stacy Dombalis
This isn’t the first time Stacy’s surprised her father with a thoughtful gesture in his final days. “We’ve done some fun things. We took him to a baseball game and surprised him with that.”
Former Captain Marsh is a Los Angeles Dodger’s fan, and the veteran was able to catch a game with his daughter and grandchildren. Stacy documented the sweet family outing in a quick video clip, which showcases Richard decked out in full Dodger’s gear, ready for a day of fun.
However because of the significant role his military background played in his life, it’s clear Stacy outdid herself with her latest gesture, making it the most memorable yet. It’s true when they say ‘every act creates a ripple effect,’ because Stacy’s surprise gesture ended up affecting more than just her father that day.
The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Michael Crawley was the bagpipe musician who showed up to Captain Marsh’s home, to play him those emotional scales one last time.
The Scottish Highland Bagpipes, are a notoriously difficult instrument to master…one of the most difficult instruments in the world, in fact. Playing the bagpipes require the musician to skillfully hone a complicated finger technique while overcoming the strict physical demands from the pipes in order to be able to play the instrument. Finding a bagpipe player was a challenge in and of itself for Stacy, but thankfully she connected with Crawley who was more than familiar with the instrument.
The bagpipes were a tradition in Michael Crawley’s family. For generations these skills were passed down from his grandfather to his father to him. When Stacy reached out and shared her story, Crawley did not hesitate to clear his schedule in order to give Captain Marsh a moving performance, he would never forget.
“It was [incredible] to have a man of his military background stand up and salute me when obviously it should be every one of us, saluting him.”Michael Crawley
As it turns out, Michael lost his father and teacher at a young age and when he plays today he feels closer than ever to his father, “every time I play I honor my dad.”
Crawley dressed in the full traditional bagpiper uniform — kilt, feather bonnet and all. His selfless act of kindness would have certainly made his father proud. “I play the bagpipes that my dad played. When I get to connect with people on that level it 100% is me paying tribute to my dad.”
Stacy’s Public Message Is a Reminder to Cherish Your Loved Ones
Stacy Dombalis explains that her father, who’s now limited in his ability to speak and wasn’t in a condition to participate in an interview, has made the choice to forgo formal medical treatment. Instead, he’s chosen to spend his final days near the water at a residence in Mexico. She felt it was important to create a memorable farewell that would stay etched in both of their hearts.
“I feel like we’re all so busy in our lives and we take our families for granted. Until we don’t have them. I’ve been so blessed to not have my dad taken away from [me], unexpectedly. This is something we know is going to happen. We’ve had great talks. Good hugs.”
Stacy’s story resonates as a powerful reminder that life is fragile, and our loved ones are invaluable treasures. We often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily routines, taking our family for granted. Stacy’s father’s deliberate decision to create precious memories together in his final days highlights the importance of cherishing every moment with those who matter most.
Whether it’s a heartfelt conversation, a warm hug, or a shared smile, these simple gestures can make a world of difference in our relationships. So, let Stacy’s message inspire us to seize the opportunity to show our love and appreciation for our loved ones, making each day count as a heartfelt gift.
Stacy’s story reminds us, even though tomorrow is an unknown future, today is a beautiful gift to be enjoyed. Make each and every day count!