In 1992, my beloved father suffered a heart attack and was taken to St. John Medical Center. From there, he was rushed to OHSU in Portland, Ore., where doctors performed an angioplasty. After the surgery, I was shown a film of his heart working - it was dying from the outside in.
In 1999, Dad was taken to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning. When my husband and I arrived, Dad was in the intensive care unit. His blood pressure was extremely low and the doctors were struggling to raise it. They were not successful. His heart stopped.
As I grieve his physical absence, the talks we used to have, and the access to his life's experiences and adventures on this Father's Day, I remember the loving and nurturing home my brother and I were raised in.
|Me and Dad, January 1959|
Mom didn't work outside the home. I never arrived home from school to a cold, empty house. My mom greeted me with a smile when I walked through the door and asked me about my day. After a few minutes of chatting, I was shuffled off to the privacy and quietness of my bedroom to do my homework.
School was a top priority in our household because neither of my parents graduated from high school. After my grandfather's death, my dad, at age 16, went to work to help support his mom. My mom quit school in February of her senior year to marry my dad.
Meals were eaten at the kitchen table together, depending on Dad's work schedule. He worked three different shifts when I was growing up. One of my favorite meals was fluffy mashed potatoes, crisp fried chicken and gravy with green beans, a tossed salad with Mom's homemade Thousand Island dressing, fresh-baked bread and a tall, ice cold glass of milk. Mmmmm.
Our lives had structure and routine. Whether we had the sniffles or the measles, a stubbed toe or a broken arm, my parents were there to take care of us.
They read to us. They played games with us. Indoors it was dice, card games and board games -- Crazy Eights, Solitaire, Go Fish, Yahtzee, Monopoly and more. As a young girl, I loved Chutes and Ladders and Candyland. Outdoors it was lawn darts, croquet, badminton. Sometimes we'd sit on the patio and talk, while marveling at Mom's beautiful roses.
|Me and dad, 1980s|
Until the day Dad died, we'd congregate around the kitchen table to share work stories and discuss current events. We'd laugh and we'd cry. From time to time, Dad would tell tales of his childhood. My husband and I still have that table and now we congregate around it.
Sunday nights were bath nights growing up. After our baths, we would be given a bowl of soft vanilla ice cream and, together we would watch "You Asked For It" and "The Wonderful World of Disney." Another TV show I remember watching was "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" with Marlin Perkins. Loved that show.
We worked in the yard together, too. Dad mowed and edged the lawn. I helped Mom pull weeds; and my brother and I raked grass clippings and swept the sidewalks, patio and driveway.
Mom didn't drive, so Dad taught me how to drive a car and how to change a tire. He taught me to stand up for myself. He taught me to be proud of who I am, to love and accept myself; and that it is OK to make mistakes - and learn from them.
If someone needed his help, he would postpone whatever he was doing to give assistance, whether he was watching his favorite football teams (the Seahawks and the Minnesota Vikings - he grew up in Minnesota) or rebuilding the transmission in the car.
When I moved from apartment to apartment, (before I married) without me asking for his help, Dad would round up a friend or two and they would move my belongings for me while I was at work.
After he died, I learned he left his mark on many people's lives.
Yep, that's my dad.
Happy Father's Day, Dad! Love and miss you tons. ❤