Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dad

Today is St. Patrick's Day, the 17th of March. A lot of people celebrate it, wearing green, having a Guiness, beer or speaking a few Irish phrases. I happen to enjoy the day. Green is my favorite color, and because the day falls in the middle of March, there is usually at least a hint of spring. Today the weather is sunny and bright and it actually feels almost warm outside. Yesterday I was supposed to fly to Juneau for a dental appointment,but the day dawned grey and snowy so I couldn't make it-go figure. I need to get back to the dentist before I resemble a Jack O' Lantern. In any event, that's neither here nor there. March 17, 2007 is the day my dad died. I've posted a couple pictures of my dad when he was a young man. Mom is with him in the top picture and you can see they both look pretty happy. She had that effect on him. It' s been four years since he passed away. He had a stroke and was in the hospital for a bit. The stroke left him without an ability to get out and around. It looked like he was headed to an assisted living home and would be confined to a wheelchair- something that just wouldn't have worked for him at all. For whatever reason, after the stoke, he was unable to open his eyes. After a few days a nurse asked him if he would like to open his eyes. "No." he replied. When she asked why not he said "You might be ugly." I had to laugh when I heard that. The last time I visited him, a few months before the stroke, he took me down to the marina where he had a favorite bench he liked to sit at and have a cup of coffee and a doughnut. He would just sit there and watch the sailboats and pelicans and porpoises. He mentioned that he got really upset one day when he came to the marina and someone was sitting on "his" bench- he was funny like that. While I was visiting, Mom sent us down to a fresh produce market to pick up tomatoes or some such thing. We wandered around the outdoor market, looking and sniffing and squeezing the various produce, and then he decided we needed a cart. A basket wouldn't be big enough. We passed by the oranges, but stopped at the grapefruits. Watermelon was on sale, so we needed one of those, and then he spotted some fresh green beans and small  potatoes- throw in a little ham or bacon and you have a meal fit for a king.  We picked up the fresh, ripe tomatoes that we came after, but also found the most beautiful big strawberries. You can't go home without a carton of those. We finally made it back home over an hour later. I don't think Mom was surprized. Dad never did anything half way. In his later years he had developed a sweet tooth and was constantly bringing home icecream. I don't know if he forgot what he had at home or just wanted to make sure he didn't run out. I opened the freezer one day and saw at least six partial containers. My daughter Jen said she watched him pull a pan of brownies out of the oven one day ( I never knew he cooked) and while looking out the back window started absent-mindedly eating them. She said he went through half the pan before  he looked down and saw what he was doing. He was very regimented in his schedule. He went to bed at the same time and woke up early, and God help you if you made too much noise while he was trying to sleep. One evening while Jen was visiting, he came out of his room with his robe and slippers on. Jen thought they were being too noisy and was expecting a reprimand, but instead he exclaimed " My night-blooming Sirus" and grabbed a flashlight. He wanted to show her a flower that only bloomed at night and then only at a certain time. He liked to share things that he enjoyed and thought other people would too. When I was there he took me to various places he'd discovered- beaches, marinas, down a scenic drive past some beautiful homes and spectacular landscaping, a fishing pier and an out of the way sandwich shop down by the water, which also happened to sell bait and fishing tackle in a different part of the building. We stopped by a Home Depot one day and picked up some flowers for his front lawn- he always loved flowers and so do I. He directed where he wanted them and I planted. It frustrated him that he couldn't do the things that he once could, but I was so pleased to be able to help. I think we both kind of knew that we probably wouldn't be spending time together again on this old earth. He left me with some great memories of our last time together so what more could you ask for? While he was alive he modeled integrity. He was outspoken and uncompromising in his opinions and there were times when his temper got the best of him, but in many ways I wish I was more like him. So enjoy the day- I may lift a glass too,  not just to St. Patrick, whom I didn't know, but to my dad, whom I did.

10 comments:

  1. What a nice tribute to your dad, Tom. I remember meeting him several times, but I was too young for him to have made much impression on me. I'm glad you have good memories of him.

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  2. Hi Jill, thanks for the comment. Yea, you were pretty young at the time. He had his problems like anyone else, but I'm so thankful that I grew up in our home. I learned things that have been with me all my life and I feel pretty fortunate.

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  3. Well written dad! I really enjoyed spending time with him while I was down there. And this is a great tribute to him. You possess a lot of his good qualities as well. Love you.

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  4. I had great memories of grandpa. I will never forget him coming out in his pj's and robe with a huge flashlight to show me that flower late at night. That meant a lot! He knew how to enjoy life! This was a great blog dad! I love you.

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  5. Loved that post dad! Thanks for sharing that great side of grandpa...the only side I saw:) I had a blast when I went down there to see them fresh out of highschool. I cherish that time with him even if it wasn't long. Love you, Liz

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  6. I regret that I never got the chance to meet Grandpa face to face, but I always enjoyed chatting with him in emails back and forth and on the phone. This was a beautiful peice written in his memory and it was easy to see all those places in my mind as I read them. Love you dad. AJ

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  7. Thankyou everyone for the comments. I wish all of you could have known Dad like I did.

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  8. I almost forgot Amber- you did meet him face to face, but you were just a baby. He mentioned you every time we visited. They were living in Marion at the time and you had a pallet layed out on their living room floor. Your Grandpa Somerlot had died and your mom took you and Jen and Liz down. You woke up in the middle of the night from the moon shining through their sliding door and you were saying Uh-Oh, Uh-oh. He and mom thought that was so cute. Anyway, you met him, you just don't remember. Love you girls!

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  9. Grandma actually did share that memory with me as well, and that kinda lessened the sting that I never got the chance to meet him at an age when I was able to remember him..

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