My Dad died three years ago today, after a sudden and unexpected illness. I was glad to be there, and it was only by the grace of God that I was. I live in Idaho. Dad lived in New Jersey. I happened to be in Washington DC for a conference when he was taken ill, so I changed my return flight and hopped a train for NJ.
I knew when I walked into his hospital room that he was close to the end of his life here on earth. He looked just like his father had right before passing; his eyes were wild and his movements very restless. Dad was in tremendous pain from what the doctors would later -- indeed, too late -- find was a perforated ulcer. He died five days after I arrived. Happily he was still a little bit lucid when I got there, and he knew I had come. And that was the last day he wasn't heavily sedated.
I didn't know my dad very well, actually. When I was born, he didn't know what to do with a daughter. My mother said he refused to hold me because I was so tiny that he was afraid. He never really got the hang of having a girl, I think.
My father had his share of shortcomings, but one thing I recognize now and appreciate very much is that he was a gentleman. He opened doors for the women in his life. He had a temper, but his everyday speech (except for the occasional "damn" or "hell") was moderate. He never made sexual allusions about anything. He never told dirty jokes. There are few men who are made in that same mold these days.
He liked to fix things and could often be found at his worktable in the cellar or the garage. He also liked to create things -- usually solutions to problems. He made countless electric lamps out of old oil lamps - and he didn't use a kit to do it. And I really wish I still had the lap desks that he made for my brother and me when we were kids. We lived in a very small house and we wanted to be able to do our homework somewhere other than the kitchen table -- but there was no room for a desk in either of our bedrooms. So Dad went downstairs to his workbench and created wooden lap desks that were beautifully stained and varnished. I had mine for many, many years, but it finally disappeared in one of my moves, sadly.
I miss Dad even more now than I did at the time he passed. There are many questions I wish I could ask him. I look forward to seeing him again someday.
Still remembering you, Dad.