Father’s Day has been different for me over the years. My father died on Father’s Day in 1994. It’s ok, don’t be all sad, he planned the big exit so we would never forget. 23 years ago on the 19th of June.
Honestly, I always thought it would be Christmas, the big guns of the holidays, but having your father die on Father’s Day…well-played Jim, well-played indeed.
This was a man with a very large presence, who wanted to be remembered in a very grand way so I would say…mission accomplished dad.
My dad was almost 58 when I born..oops, which made my childhood a tad interesting, to say the least. It’s funny because I never thought my dad was old, he was just my dad. Until that Summer afternoon in my driveway when my best friend invited me to come to her Grams surprise 60th birthday party. She informed me it was going to be a big party because 60 is really old. This moment was equivalent having a friend fill you in on the whole Santa hoax. Wadda mean really old?
Needless to say, the lightbulb went off, the calculator in my head was hard at work and 68 is the final answer. Should I be afraid that the Grim Reaper is lurking in the shadows? Yes, which is exactly what I did from that moment forward. Side note: My mother was 20 years younger, just in case you were going to look me up in the Guinness Book of World Records as the baby born to the oldest woman or something.
He certainly didn’t act old. We went to the shore, amusement parks, and rides to Lancaster, just because he liked chicken and dumplings. We drove for ice-cream on a whim to a special place 45 minutes away, because it was better. We did everything the kids with a young dad did, just with more gray hair.
As I said my dad had a big personality. He was a Jimmy Hoffa/Archie Bunker (without the bigotry) all rolled into one. If he had something to say, he said it. If you crossed him…be afraid. If there was wrong to be righted, he got the job done. How? Who knows and it’s probably better to leave some things to the imagination.
He was a feisty free spirit who lived his life according to his own set of rules. He was loud, stubborn, demanding, certainly not boring, full of life and definitely had a good sense of humor. He never smoked or drank a day in his life, which most likely helped him in the end. I couldn’t even imagine an alcohol induced Jim…I think I just got goosebumps at that thought.
He was a Teamster and drove a truck for a living, but retired when I went to first grade. So in 1971, he became the stay at home dad and my mother went to work. Let’s just draw some more attention to ourselves as being different, shall we?
Both of my parents were very politically active during my childhood, so although he was retired from his job he always had something going on politically. He did go back to work part-time until he was 81. His motto was “always work hard, but remember you’re only a number” and today my siblings and I are all incredibly loyal hard-working adults, despite being a number.
When my dad was 81 he lost part of his foot to diabetes. This was after Dr. Jim decided he would remove his ingrown toenail with pliers. Feel free to read that line again, yes you did read “pliers” and yes, as in the tool in the garage.
Of course, no one knew how bad it was until it was too late. My mother had to retire at that point to care for him for the next 7 years. She refers to that time as “serving her sentence.” The woman is a saint! There isn’t a jury in the land that would convict her if she accidentally sat on that pillow on his face…trust me.
Jim was the worst patient in the ENTIRE world. Try telling an old free spirit …” you can’t”. The sentence “you can’t drive anymore, we need to take your license” was a million times more deadly than that gangrenous foot … for all of us.
Although, I know there were highways out there cheering with joy that Mr. Magoo was finally parked for good. Sitting in the passenger seat could cure even the worst case of constipation.
Honestly, when the man behind the wheel is saying “I’ll drive wherever the hell I want..I pay my taxes” as your entering the street with the red and white DO NOT ENTER sign, you know why your bowels are rumbling!
Although I was born to an older dad, I was fortunate that he hung around long enough to meet my daughter. I found out I was pregnant with my son the day before his funeral. This was a huge surprise, considering I had no recollection of having sex. But, according to that blue plus sign on the stick, I did. My first thought was “Oh, shit!” and rightfully so, because sure enough, there is a stubborn, demanding, free-spirited, outspoken young man who looks very much like my dad, living in my house.
Just remember folks, at 58 my father lived another life. He died when I was 30 years old. So he raised me, watched me get married… twice, became a grandfather for the 7th time and taught me a valuable lesson … you’re never too old to Enjoy the Ride!