Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Happy Birthday, Daddy-O
If he'd lived, my dad would be celebrating his 93rd birthday today. Oh, I'm sure he'd be complaining about his golf game. And it's quite possible that we would have taken his driver's license away by now. His sense of distance had been failing, and he tended to swing wide, just missing hitting the curb or sometimes other cars. And, oh, how he'd be missing my mother who died a matter of weeks before he did!
That wasn't the way it was supposed to be. My dad had for years expressed the wish to die first; he couldn't imagine facing life without her. They barbed at one another constantly (My mother said to me at one point, "I wish your father would take a permanent golf vacation"), and the distance between them appeared to grow once my mother became seriously ill. I recognize now that my dad was petrified that my mother wouldn't make it and, instead of supporting and caring for her, he did everything he could to push her to her limits.
For all his years, my dad was in incredibly good shape. Hell, it took him 8 days to die with no food or water. He couldn't do math in his head anymore, and multi-tasking was often beyond him. But he was still very present, never forgot a face, and could argue politics and other social issues with the best of them. He loved the fact that I was politically involved and was intrigued by how the computer had revolutionized social/political networking. My dad was a proud member of MoveOn.org. He was hip and progressive to the end.
Sitting by his bed side, waiting for him to die after a subdural hematoma left him paralyzed on the left side, unable to speak, and unable to swallow, I was convinced that, despite his protestations to the contrary before he was struck down, he really didn't want to die. We all say things we don't mean, and I believe that if he could have had a second chance at life, he would have grabbed it. His beloved youngest daughter lived nearby. Her friends had become his. He'd taken to small town living in Yellow Springs, Ohio, like a duck to water and probably could have run for mayor or water commissioner. He was that personable. My dad could strike a conversation with anyone and often did.
I'd love to be able to talk to him now. So much has happened since July 26, 2008. Obama is President of the United States. He would be damn happy about that. The country is more polarized than it's been in decades. He would have been dismayed but with a sense of history that nine plus decades brings. And all the personal events, dreams and disappointments. My dad was a good sounding board and always one of my best supporters.
So, daddy-o, I wish you happy trails wherever you may be. Know that your memory is fresh, your lessons well taught, and your love always a port in the storm.