Thursday, June 16, 2016

Happy Father's Day, Dad

The following post first appeared June 19, 2011. 
I am re-posting in honor of Father's Day.
Dad’s birthday was June 14th, and Father’s Day is Sunday. He is not around anymore to celebrate with us, but his spirit is. He died a few years ago, in his 80s, and I believe he enjoyed his life – at least most of it. 
Dad’s father died when he was a toddler, and his Mom raised him and his sister. His Mom (my grandmother) never remarried. He formed a close-knit group of buddies in elementary school that remained friends throughout their lives. He grew up poor. Although so many suffered during the Depression, Dad knew he was worse off than his friends, but he never complained. He had a great disposition, looking at the positive side of things and shrugging off the problems. 
He started college but left to serve in World War II. He was a radioman in Europe and wounded. After the war he returned to New York City, went to work, married Mom, had two daughters, and completed college during the 1950s by attending City College night classes. Advertising his profession, he worked for several agencies, including for a short time his own.
Mom and Dad experienced money problems during the 1960s as inflation rampaged, but after my sister and I left the nest and graduated from college, they traveled, participated in Elderhostel programs, and took the grandchildren on trips. Between trips, volunteer activities and social events they fit us in and saw us once in a while.
Eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the last few years were difficult, especially for Mom. But it was COPD that got Dad in the end. His heart and lungs wore out, but it was a blessing compared to suffering the ravages of what Alzheimer’s does to its victims at the end.
Almost up to the very end Dad played blackjack; the few seconds it took to play was enough time for him to complete a hand, often successfully. But he frequently did not remember where he was. One time he went to the casino hotel desk and said he could not remember his room number. He was not staying at the hotel. 

Another time he wandered off and got lost in the parking garage (which a lot of us do occasionally, including me). He called us on the cell phone. We told him to hand the phone to anyone near him wearing a uniform. He found a security guard and we told the guard not to let Dad get away. 

Then there was the time – pre-9-11 – he drove a rental car through a metal fence and onto the runway at West Palm Beach Airport. He kept driving until he found the way out.
Dad was in and out of the hospital with COPD and related ailments for years. He and Mom were  celebrating their 50th anniversary and taking the whole family to Hawaii - except Dad needed gall bladder surgery and the doctor said there was no way he could go. He insisted the rest of us (except Mom) go. The kids and grandkids had a great time, and anytime on the island cruise passengers were asked, “Who is celebrating an anniversary?” we all yelled: "We are! We are!"

One year Mom threw him Dad a birthday bash, but he was in the hospital and the hospital would not release him. I think it was his 83rd birthday. Hub and Mom went to the hospital, checked him out and brought him home. (We figured, what was the worst that could happen?) He loved the celebration with all his friends and family. 

Happy Father's Day, Dad. We love you.

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