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Archive for October 2nd, 2020

Dad

 

My dad passed away last night.

Please don’t send messages of sympathy. They are not required or expected. Instead, do something decent for someone you love and let them know you care. That will do much more for the world and yourself than sending me a message. I will be happier knowing you did that.

We are, of course, saddened. But more than that, we are relieved that his suffering here is at an end. These last several months have been a real ordeal for him. And for us in that we weren’t able to visit or truly witness his condition’s progress.

His skin cancer had metastasized and he was experiencing a horrible infection on the side of his head. I asked for photos of his head last week and the nursing facility hesitatingly forwarded them to me with a warning to brace myself.

They were right as I actually gasped and said Oh, my god! when I opened the photo. It was a horrifying sight made all the more awful by the fact that it was on someone I loved. It was like looking at an autopsy photo of a family member.

I only describe it now so that you can understand when I say that we are somewhat relieved. Nobody wants their loved ones to endure such agony, such indignity, especially as his dementia clouded his perception of what was happening to him. It was the best outcome in the minute.

We saw him one last time the other day, all masked up and trying to protect ourselves as best we could from the covid 19 virus that had recently been identified on his very floor, making it a de facto quarantine unit. That sense of contamination along with his deeply medicated condition made for a sad goodbye.

For now, that is the image of him I will carry. Hopefully only a short while. I would rather remember him in more vibrant times like the photo above.

Here’s a post that I have ran a few times about that photo followed by a song that he often sang when I was in the car with him as a kid. He would laugh at it now as he did then. He liked to laugh and could say some pretty funny things. I can still hear him interjecting a Hey! at the end of every line of the chorus of this song.

So, don’t be sad at my own sadness. Have a drink today, eat a nice meal, hug your kids, and do something good for someone else.

That’s so much better than being sad or worried or fearful. Rest in peace, Pops.

The photo above is a photo from back in 1963 or 64. We were living in an old farmhouse on Wilawanna Road, outside Elmira, just on the NY side of the border with Pennsylvania. You could walk over the hill behind our house and be in Pennsylvania. It’s a place that played a large part in my formative years.

We had a large chunk of yard to one side of the house that became a ballfield, a place where many of the kids on our road came to play baseball regularly and where Dad would often pitch to us or hit soaring fungoes that we would run under, pretending to be Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle. Dad is standing near home plate in this photo. That’s my brother, Charlie ( Chuckie back then), in the background.

I love this photo. When I think of images of my father this one is always first in line in my head. It was a Sunday morning, Easter if I am not mistaken but time has fuzzed that detail a bit.

It show my father at about 30 or so years of age, as strong and powerful as I would ever know him. I was four or five years old and he was larger than life to me then, could do no wrong. My protector, my boon companion, and still my hero at that point. This view of him sums that all up.

The pose has a bit of the pride and arrogance of youth in it, still brimming with the what-if’s and what-can-be’s of potential. It’s not something you’re used to seeing in your parents and witnessing it is like seeing a secret glimpse of them, a side you know must have been there but remains hidden from you in your day to day life with your parents. Maybe that’s why I like this picture so much. It seems like a marking point between his youth and ours, his kids.

I don’t know. Like many personal things, it’s hard to explain. All I know is that when I see my Dad in my mind now, the image of this photo is never far from my mind.

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