Dad died yesterday, releasing him from his pain. It had been coming for a long time. The thing about the long goodbye as your loved one slowly slips away over years is that you think you have already grieved and shed all of your tears… and then when it happens you realize that it really has just begun.
My Dad was mischievous. He was older than most Dad’s, born in the great depression, the middle child joker in a sea of siblings. At 17 he enlisted and went to Germany to rebuild after WWII and served through Korea and the beginning of Vietnam. He retired after 20 years with a pension and a broken back. Then when I was 5, he met and married my mom, adopting me and giving me his name.
It took me a long time to adjust and understand him. He wasn’t perfect. A man of his time, he believed in family and service, but was always a bit of a rogue. He was much deeper than the his shell of jabs and jokes let on. He suffered his own demons and from the deterioration of MS that had broken his back and kept him in chronic pain. He self medicated with alcohol and spent too much time at the VFW drinking and playing cards.
He didn’t have all the answers, but taught me philosophy, and the art of verbal fisticuffs. Dad gave what he could to my sister, mom and myself. I am who I am because of him and I miss him. For years now MS, diabetes, dementia and pain medicine have robbed him of his health and memory, but even to the end he was still Dad. I see more of him in myself than I admit.. Dad lives in me..