Sunday, August 19, 2018

A Tale of Three Fathers


This past Friday marked the 14th anniversary of my father's death. Although it happened so many years ago, there are still painful memories of his last days. He collapsed at his home and never regained consciousness which, in a sense, was probably a good thing. If nothing else, it allowed his children a last chance to see him before he took his last breath. Although he was 80 years old at the time, his liver was still able to be used and was transplanted into a needy person. Unfortunately, we have no information on that person and do not know if she is still alive today.

My dad's final moments were shared with his family as we all stood around him right after he was taken off life support systems. It was a moment of brutal reality.

I have told several stories about my dad over the 12+ years of this blog. Unfortunately, most of the really great stories will never appear here due to the political correctness of current times. My dad used colorful terms in describing people of different ethnicities, races and religions -- terms that were common in the middle to late 1900's. They do not translate well to today's sensibilities. However, any readers chatting with me in person -- particularly over a few frosty beverages -- might get to hear some of these really funny things.

Tomorrow marks the 37th first day of school in my long career in higher education. The only first day I missed in all those years was in 2004 when my dad passed away. One of life's harsh realities for many people is that moment when your first parent dies. Even after years pass, it stays with you. You hope that you have a treasure trove of great memories to focus on rather than the end.


As many of you probably know, I am a father to three kids -- two girls and a boy. Those of you who are parents or were ever charged with raising children know everything that goes into parenting the little ones. So much time, effort ... and money! goes into providing a life for these little ones. As they grow older, the costs increase as do, in many cases, the challenges that you face. You don't do it to receive any kind of pat on the back, but you do everything out of love. However, you do remember as special those moments that fill your heart with joy.

As I have shared much of my life through this blog -- stories, good times, bad times -- I really wish to share with my friends something that I received out of the blue the other day. Almost a month ago, I helped my oldest daughter purchase an almost new car. My help included looking for cars for her, going with her to a dealership to test drive one, and finally finding the perfect car for her and helping her arrange dirt-cheap financing. It was fun as I love to get good deals, but it was just one of those things that, as a dad, you do. I'm guessing that this, and possibly other things, caused some reflection on my daughter's part. I was surprised to get the following text while at work this past week:
I was sitting at a table in a public area and didn't want to start bawling in front of everyone, but I was certainly touched. Moments like this don't seem to come around often enough in your life, but when they do, they are spectacular. So despite having to deal with a bunch of crap this month including shelling out several thousand dollars to have some extensive outside sewer and plumbing work, I have been a pretty happy camper. So ... I just wanted to share this with you, some of my best and most dear friends.


Saturday was a busy day for me. The mother of a former co-worker passed away and I had to drive outside town to go to the visitation in the morning. Before noon, I left with my wife to go to an out-of-town wedding of a good friend of my daughter. There was a 2 1/2 hour lag between the end of the wedding and the beginning of the reception, so I was able to get in a session of poker at the riverboat casino, which was only two miles away from the place where the reception would be held.

After booking a moderate win, my wife and I headed to the reception. Seats were assigned, and we were seated at a table with several couples who were about our age. I noticed that one gentleman at the table was wearing a pin with a photo on his lapel. We found out that the photo was of his daughter, a very good friend of the bride. In a cruel twist of fate, the daughter contracted a rare disease, went into the hospital and quickly passed away about 20 months ago. I had a few minutes to myself and quickly looked up some information on my phone. I slowly began to remember the newspaper article about his daughter. He checked his daughter's Facebook account and saw that my son was one of his daughter's Facebook friends. They had gone to the same high school. On the wedding party's table, a seat was reserved for this girl and a picture of her was there so that she could be present at the wedding.

I could not believe how difficult it must have been for this father to have lost his young, lovely daughter to a rare disease at such an early age. And to lose her so quickly and unexpectedly ... And then to come to this wedding and watch his daughter's good friend get married, and to see guys like me who still had our daughters at the wedding. My heart was breaking as I thought of how crushing it must have been, and how that sometimes due purely to chance some of us have great things happen, and some have terrible things to deal with. It was certainly a reminder that life is not fair, and that we should take every opportunity to live life to its fullest, as we have no guarantees in this life and, as one distraught parent once wrote, your whole life can change in a moment.

I certainly didn't mean for this post to be a downer, but instead I hope it serves as a reminder to appreciate those you love and tell them so while you can, for you never know when that opportunity might be lost, never to be regained. Life can truly change in an instant.

Thank for reading!


Blogger Mr Subliminal said...

Thanks for writing this excellent post.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Ace said...

Very touching story. It is good to "zoom out" from daily life and look at the big picture once in a while.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog sir! Keep up the great work, from one dad to another.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

Great post.

"No parent should have to bury their child" -- it's almost a cliche, but so true.

8:36 PM  

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