So as you probably know Father’s Day is sneaking up on us. This day of celebrating is generally far more laid back and less celebrated than its counterpart, Mother’s day. My husband and I have a special way of celebrating Father’s day. As you may or may not know, we both lost our fathers not long ago so it is more of a memorial than anything. The day before father’s day (Saturday) we go out to a restaurant and feast on foods that our fathers would have liked. For the past two years this has been at a buffet, and we haven’t chosen a location for this year yet. So why go Saturday and not Sunday? Well, both of our dad’s were money conscientious and it is cheaper and less crowed on Saturday.
So Saturday is not going to be a super healthy eating day for me, but I’ll do pretty well.
Sadly we will be having a friend join us for our “Fathers Lost Too Soon” outing. I found out last Saturday that one of our newer friends lost his dad so we invited him along. Three years ago, it was just me and husband; last year there were three of us (a long term friend lost here dad that year). This year she has moved out of town, but we found someone new. For my age (about 30) group there are way too many missing dads.
If you have had a good dad in your life (biological or not) be sure to give him a hug (figuratively if they are far) on that special day. When they are gone, they’re gone.
For curiosities sake I thought I’d give a bit of information on my dad. I always thought he was kinda cool.
My Pop: He didn’t talk a whole lot about himself, so my information has always been a bit sketchy. By the end we were really close. When I was a kid he would leave before we got up for school and got home for dinner. He was no nonsense and I thought he was kinda scary. Dad was in the air force for 20 years before retiring at the ripe old age of 41 (when I was in the 4th/5th grade) living in Hawaii. While in the service he flew a desk and acted as a diplomat for countries like Japan. He didn’t talk much about work because of information being classified (after 10 years he did talk about some of it).
Being good with planning and finances he decided he wanted to help people via life insurance selling. To get his license he had to do a lot of studying. Watching him hide for a few hours a day, when you did not bother him, gave me an early view of a good student. After retiring service will move you anywhere you want to go for free within two years of retiring. When that time was coming up for my family my parents decided to move us to Florida (no state income taxes, good schools and all that).
Who would think that my dad selling insurance would change my view on life
. Well, my dad always liked to help people. Moving from Hawaii to Florida he kept selling insurance and Florida is known for old people. One day my dad was helping an old couple and he told them, if you change your insurance to my company you will lose all the money you had built up in your current company. You are better off staying with them and changing your policy to cover these things. Well when my dad’s boss learned of this he told my dad “Your job isn’t to help people, it’s to sell insurance.” Dad quit on the spot. I always hope that I will have the guts to do this if I ever get put on the spot like that. It doesn’t hurt to have enough money to retire
So dad retired again- I was in middle school. He took on the role of full time dad and we got really close (and so did my brother). After a few years he got talked into teaching political science part time at a local (mostly non-traditional student) college. This had him wearing nice shoes and a tie, both of which he didn’t like. This worked out for 3-4 semesters until he was told he needed to park in the grass lot so the students coming in late could park closer to the building. Dad wasn’t going to park in the mud, so at the end of the semester he retired again, and found his true calling.
My family has always been church goers and volunteers. Dad decided to stop paid work and just be the fix it guy for the church. We helped build the church a few years earlier when there was just a hand full of members and now he was going to take care of it. Fixing windows and toilets, replacing light bulbs and air filters. Installing shelves and getting the secretaries car running late at night while her husband was out of town. I got dragged along during the summer through high school, and he and I got really close. He also helped friends and church members if they needed help at home. For a guy that hated being up on ladders, he spent a lot of time on them. The suit and ties were now only for weddings and funerals. When people asked what he did, he told them he was a bum.
One day, four years ago, he was trimming hedges for a lady he knew from church when he fell off the ladder. She called 911 and came out to check on him. He was gone, dead before he hit the ground. Thankfully she was a doctor (pediatrician) so she never blamed herself of what happened. The ambulance came and did what they could, but it was too late, he never woke up again.
I had talked to my dad a lot on the phone while I was in college and he got me though the worst times of my life (terminally ill, crazy, destructive roommate; but that’s another blog). Four years ago I was in a much better place but still calling often. The day before he died I had called, but he didn’t answer because he was up on the extension ladder fixing a window in the house. I did catch him later that day (I’m a persistent phoner) and we had a good talk about fixing cracked windows. I love that man .
They originally ruled the death a heart attack. Case closed. Dad’s doctor said no. He was a big guy, but his ticker was fine, no cholesterol issues or anything. So they did a full autopsy. Turns out he had a heart defect that had gone undetected. Under stress a little flap in the heart causes turbulence which causes the flap to vibrate more and more until is covers an opening and stops the blood flow. Instant death. Most people with this defect don’t live that long (still borns and young kids) without having it fixed. Estimated about 2% of the population can have it. It can be genetic and I’ve tested negative. The fix is easy; they just inject a little poison (like mercury) into the flap and a small area of cells die, removing the flap. It is also easy to detect, but only one test can do it. If dad had had heart issues, poor health, or a heart attack it probably would have been detected, but since he was in good health (other than heavy) no testing was ever done.
My dad was cremated shortly after the autopsy. So I didn’t get to see him. I am glad for that. Mom said he didn’t look like him anymore, and painting him up for presentation wasn’t Dad-like. The last time I saw him alive was at my wedding, 9 months earlier. He looked good then. He wore a pink paisley tie to match my mom’s dress. That was also the last picture taken of my dad, and it was used for the funeral.
The service was in Florida at the church he took care of. Over 350 people attended; there wasn’t enough room for them all. Instead of flowers, mom asked for church donations. Many a dollar was given, and a fund was started in his name. Many people from that part of his life had no idea he had ever been in the air force. I learned he had been a drummer (go figure). As I mentioned he really didn’t live in the past.
Him and mom were married for over 30 years and were still totally in love, and such a match! Dad was interred in the columbarium (fancy wall for cremation tubes) at the church he loved in a beautiful garden area he helped created and upkeep. He passed away after 54 years and 11 months of life. He passed away after 13 years of retirement, and doing what he loved. You can’t ask for much better than that. If you asked mom, she says “God much have really needed something fixed up in heaven, and had to call dad home right away.” I’m betting whatever it was, it required an extension ladder.
My father’s daughter