It’s been three years since I’ve talked with my dad. The last good conversation was on Father’s Day 2010. It wasn’t the typical bbq, laughing with the family kind of day. Instead I visited him in the ICU of Kaiser Hospital. Fighting dementia and other complications, he was losing the battle. I don’t know if it was the oxygen or the blood transfusion, but we had the most wonderful, energetic, father-daughter conversation in months. We spoke of the past and the future; he remembered me and everything in real time that day. We laughed and cried and spent two hours together. Nine days later, he was gone.
Dad was born on January 27, 1921. He served in WWII in The Persian Gulf Command
. After his discharge, he started with one of the well-known power companies in California, Pacific Gas and Electric. He was the elevator operator in an eight-story brick building in the heart of Fresno. He married my mom, they had three children, and he continued to work at the same job. After 39 years he retired in 1984 to pursue his love of traveling.
His favorite destinations were Hawaii, New York and Australia. Although he went everywhere, he always found his way back to those favorites. He loved watching plays, so he also traveled to San Francisco to take in as many as possible each year. Riding the Amtrak and staying at the YMCA, he tried to be as frugal when traveling. When I was in high school, I was part of a drama club, Thespians. We went to New York for a week during Christmas. Dad was the first to volunteer to be a chaperone – after all, the itinerary included four Broadway plays.
|My sister, Susan, Dad, and me.
When he wasn’t traveling, he took tap dancing lessons, worked out at the gym daily, and volunteered at a local elementary school as a teacher’s aide for a class of 6th graders. He loved to share about his travels and quiz the kids on geography. When I was in school, he enjoyed helping me with my own homework – especially spelling tests – making sure I knew the words backwards and forwards. When I brought home “A” papers, he was so proud, like he had earned the “A” too.
He loved to have fun.Once, he and a few of his friends had a bet whether Madonna would ever come to Fresno.Losing the bet meant he had to take his friends to her concert.And so it was, June 5, 2006 he and two of his friends attending the Confession’s Tour concert courtesy of my dad.He was 85; they were also in their 80s. He even bought t-shirts for all of them, physical proof that he’d made good on his promise.
He also enjoyed watching movies, but after a while he and his cohorts would see how many they could sneak into in an afternoon. He’d call and boast he’s seen three movies on just one ticket. I couldn’t believe my ears — my dad who had taught me right from wrong, spanked me when I messed up, and made me eat liver and weed the alley, sneaking into movies AND bragging about it. He shrugged it off and said he didn’t worry about getting caught. “Who’d prosecute an old man for forgetting which theater he was in?” was his reply.
One day he knee began to hurt. After finding out it was inoperable due to arthritis, he began to give up on life. He sat in front of the window counting the cars as they went by. Within a year he became withdrawn and depressed. He went into a small-home nursing facility and passed six weeks later on June 29, 2010 at the age of 89.
I miss my dad. I miss hearing about his travels and his three movies on one ticket antics. I miss telling him about the “A”s I get in my college classes. But most of all I miss picking up the phone and just chatting about nothing in particular.
Happy Father’s Day Dad. Thanks for teaching me that caring about others is most important and how to have fun and live it up once in a while. Thank you for your support and encouragment. Thanks for being my dad and my hero. You’re in my thoughts every day.