Thursday, February 07, 2008

Requiem

My father died this morning.

I'm glad he's not sick any more. I'm sorry that he spent the last ten years of his life sitting in his house. I think his doctor did not do him a service by looking at him and seeing an old man who needed palliative care, instead of encouraging him to rehabilitate, and teach him to use the tools he did have. Instead, he told him things like "I'm surprised you're still alive."

I think if anyone told me that, I'd shoot myself, just to ruin their surprise.

He was born in coal mining country. My grandfather was a sometime miner, sometime truck driver, sometime gas station attendant. I never met my grandmother. She divorced my grandfather when my father was a little boy. He was raised by a series of stepmothers, aunts, grandmothers, with a lot of cousins. He lost a sister when she was very young. I have seen one picture of that sister, and she looks like my baby pictures. She had "infantile paralysis," which can actually mean anything. Properly, it refers to polio, but she appears to have some sort of neurological deficit, from what one can tell from a seventy-year-old photograph. He has one sister, one half-sister and one half-brother surviving. (His half-brother has a stepson whom I refer to as my half-step-cousin.)

He left school in the ninth grade, and went to work. He joined the Air Force at seventeen, and went to South Korea and unloaded cargo planes. He returned to the US and married my mother in 1954. He took his GI benefit and learned to be an electrician, which he did for most of the rest of his life. He belonged to an amateur band for many years, where he played the guitar and sang harmony.

He like country music, the Dallas Cowboys, Oklahoma football, Kentucky basketball, coconut cream pie, jalepeƱo peppers, greasy chili, gravy on everything, and the most important activity in his life was attending church. Three times a week, unless there was something special going on at the church, and he'd be there in addition.

He was a simple fellow, lots of black and white, not a lot of shades of gray in his understanding. Nuance and subtletly completely escaped him.

He is already missed.

7 comments:

Wendy's Mom said...

I am so sorry to hear about your father. He is not suffering anymore, he can now breath freely, and that is a good thing.

Just know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Love,
Sheila

Kristi said...

What a beautiful entry of your father. You are in my prayers.

Love always,
Kristi

Annette said...

What a special man. What a special daughter.
love,
your phriend
annette

Colleen said...

Your tribute to your father was wonderful to read. I'm so sorry for your loss, my phriend. You're in my thoughts and prayers!
Love,
Colleen

Kathy said...

I am sorry to hear about your father...you write such lovely things about him. He is in heaven looking down at you and your family...he is at peace. I know this may not be of any comfort right now, but he is not suffering anymore and I am sure he is sending you love. God bless.

Jen said...

What a great story about your Father. I know that he will be greatly missed but rest assured that he is breathing much easier and without pain. You and your family are in my prayers.
Love and hugs,
Jen

paula54 said...

What a great tribute to your dad. You're in my thoughts and prayers. Miss you in chat! With love, Paula