This picture would have been taken sometime in the 1940’s, perhaps around 1944. I don’t know if it would have been before or after the War. Dad was born in May of 1924 in a farm house in Southern Illinois, and he looks really young here, so I thought he might be about 20. Now, that he’s gone, I wish I had done a better job of getting these pictures out and talking to him about them.
Why do we think we have an infinity of time?
This picture was taken February 27, 1925. Granny, or somebody, had written the day on the back, so the year had to be 1925. He already has those full lips!
I miss my dad. I miss asking him questions like “How old were you in this picture?” I miss taking him for drives down the old roads where he grew into a man; waving at one; stopping to chat with another; reminiscing about life as he knew it then. I miss watching old Westerns with him; the same one sometimes over and over.
Dad had diabetes. His eye sight was bad; his heart was at 15% working capacity; he had lost one leg and was trying to save the other; he died from the gallstones. After heart surgery and the surgery to take his leg off above the knee, he didn’t want anymore surgery.
He was 74.
As he lay in the hospital bed with his eyes closed, Djuana, one of his nurses, and I were talking. We thought he was asleep, and we were talking quietly. She said he needed surgery to remove the stones. And I said that I didn’t think he would have another surgery. Right then he very loudly and very firmly said, “No surgery.” We both about jumped out of our skin!
Dad never complained about his sugar; his comas; his leg off; his heart; losing the ability to even drive the golf cart around; nothing. He was sometimes sad, but never complained about that either. I could tell he was low in the way he hung his head or the way he greeted me when I came in.
It was a pleasure to care for him.
My brother and sister and I took turns a week at a time staying with Dad the summer he died. Every morning he wanted biscuits and gravy from our little quick market in town. I always got one order, and we shared them. On an early morning of a week my brother was staying, he woke up to find Dad sitting in his wheelchair in Ben’s bedroom doorway. As soon as Ben opened his eyes and looked at Dad, Dad said, “You want some biscuits and gravy?” He had probably been up a long, long time and was very glad to have someone else up too. Ben always got two orders. Dad told him I starved him, made him share one.
There are so many good stories from that time.
As Dad and I sat together one night, he was staring off as though he were thinking, and I asked him about it. He and his wife had separated, and I was wondering if he was sad about her being gone. He said, “I was just thinking how happy I am; you kids here.”
And that makes me happy. And it’s my birthday. So happy birthday to me on Father’s Day.