My father passed away late last night. Not the best Father’s Day news but in one sense I’m glad it didn’t happen today and that he’s finally at peace. And it did happen peacefully with my mother, sister, myself and Kent (my ex who’s been like a son to my parents) at his side at the nursing facility. Daddy had been moved there on Friday after yet another quick trip to the hospital where it was decided by all that it was time to place him on palliative care, i.e. essentially no longer trying to save him but simply making him comfortable, because the doctors felt his organs were on the verge of starting the failure process.
In life my father was an interesting man. He was essentially a blue collar worker and a self-made man. He graduated with his GED at the age of 50 – the certificate itself is dated on his fiftiest birthday – without even studying for the test. He just walked in and took it. He retired from civil service late life after working in many and various “jobs” and still managed to accumulate a serious nest egg for himself and my mother.
This will be the one and only time you’ll ever see me mention either politics or religion on this blog so listen up. Most of my values about life and what we call the American way, I learned at his knee. He was active in both the political and religious life of this community and yet never held any office or joined a church that I know of. Which when I think about it seems odd but if one knew the man it all made sense.
He was active politically by speaking out when he agreed or disagreed with the movers and shakers and sometimes just for the heck of it. He loved to write letters to the editor in the local newspaper when the, um, spirit moved him on an issue. They were usually appreciated. By someone. On one side or the other of whichever point he was making. He was a fairly active member of a political party but I’m not saying which one because that isn’t as important as the fact that I know in my soul that had it been in “power” locally when he joined so many years ago, he would’ve probably joined the other one. Just to keep things in balance. Then again, that was locally but nationally may have been another matter. Who knows.
As to religious matters, I do know that he sincerely believed in God and the power of prayer. Churches, though, those were another matter. Those he loved to have fun with. Put it this way, when the funeral director asked us today what his church affliation was, my sister and I looked at each other and kind of rolled our eyes, both wondering if there was an “all of the above” choice. His personal philosophy was somewhere between not believing in any organized religion and at the same time loving several of the individual churches too much to choose. Now some people might see that as a flaw, preachers usually, but anyone who truly got to know him realized that he meant it. And he had friends in all of them so they forgave him what they saw as an eccentricity. Eventually. After spending many long years arguing with him over it and losing the arguments, usually.
Oh, and one more thing, he did have one dream that he loved to talk about. His fondest dream was to meet the President of the United States dressed in a pair of overalls and a straw hat. That this might actually one day come true was also my mother’s worst nightmare. I was never quite sure whether he was truly serious about this “dream” or if it was simply symbolic (and a way to torment my mother) but I think I eventually figured out what it meant to him and that he actually could’ve been serious. To him, the President was just another person that we should feel comfortable enough to meet in plain old everyday clothes. Whatever those are. Why he fixated on overalls when he wasn’t a farmer, I do not know, but there it is.
Like I said, an interesting father to have grown up with.