My old man died this year.
Wasn’t supposed to happen. He was supposed to live forever.
At least that’s what I believed at age 12.
To me he was a superhero with larger-than-life friends. There was nothing that he could not do if he put his mind to it. He lived as if life were his personal plaything to do with as he pleased. He often treated life casually and often ignored signs of danger. I know…I argued with him often enough about the dangers of crispy pork rind well after he had been diagnosed with diabetes and was on home dialysis treatment. He did not give in then either. Dismissed my concerns with a wave of his hand, then changed the subject.
He had a sense of humour. Well, actually, he loved telling stories. He loved to laugh but he loved an audience even more. His grand kids will attest to that! At every gathering as far back as I can remember, he and his cronies held court around the bar telling new stories of conquest and re-telling the old ones that somehow never seemed to grow stale with the endless retelling. The group around them grew and changed over the years, but the basic format remained.
He was an optimist. Correct that: he was naïve and unrealistic. He did not believe that he couldn’t get what he wanted. Every time. In fact, when I look back he did get everything he ever wanted: kids, friends, grandkids…good times. And the timeless ability to pass on his wisdom in the stories. You just had to listen carefully.
He was tough and ornery. If you crossed him, he ‘wrote you off”. Never spoke to you again…gone from his consciousness. Usually lasted about a week. Month tops. Another party or get together and all was forgiven. He did not have many enemies.
He yelled at me and pushed me constantly. At 12 this sucked. Kept it bottled up for years. Only after having kids of my own did I come to terms with his behaviour: he was imperfect! Duh!
He was not perfect. Far from it. He often talked about ‘shoulda, coulda, woulda’ when it came to things that he could have accomplished in his life. “Hmmm…wonder where I get it from”? Over the years I have learned to overcome ‘shoulda, coulda, woulda’. Thanks Dad.
He was supposed to live forever.
On September 23, 2008 forever arrived.
I was there until the end. He went peacefully and with what I swear was a smile on his face. Seemed to be saying to us even then, “I had a ton of fun…sorry it had to end so soon…keep the party going for me”