Tuesday, March 01, 2005

861 On fathers and dads

Tomorrow morning my husband will fly to California to see his father who had a heart attack on Saturday. He is refusing all "heroic" measures, including his regular medication, so it is possible that father and son won't meet again this side of heaven. A divorce when my husband was two years old means they didn't live together, but you don't have to be in the same room with them too long to see that they are related.

We sent our children out to see him for a week when they were about 14 and 15, and our son, who is an incredible mimic, can still do a comedy routine of Grandpa nipping into the candy bowl and frying bacon. In August 2003 we went out for his 90th birthday party, a huge bash in my brother-in-law's decorated backyard. He is a popular guy with many friends half his age. During WWII he had what must have been the dream assignment of the war--arranging entertainment for the troops. That 2003 visit was only the second time his four children had all been together with him at the same time, the other time being in Indiana sometime in the 1950s. I know it sounds sort of distant and cool, but it is amazing to me who grew up in an intact family with grandparents and great-grandparents in the same town, how close they all are and how they share mannerisms, speech patterns and body language. My father-in-law had eight brothers and sisters who took family very seriously and included his two little ones in everything. This is a blended family (I could write volumes) which sets the bar for that term.

In 1977 we flew to California with the children for an extended visit. A large athletic man, bigger than either son, my husband's father had lost about 50 pounds that year, as had my own father, and my husband's step-dad. I joked that I had lost one entire dad just from dieting.

In 1995 we were both at work when we got the call about my husband's step-father. We threw things in the suitcase and quickly drove to Indianapolis, but we were too late to say good-bye. He was already on a respirator. Both fathers were at our wedding, but this was the father who paid the mortgage, put food on the table, disciplined for misbehavior and smartmouthing, mowed the lawn, went to ballgames, attended our kids' parties, and told the funny stories on holidays. My husband delivered the eulogy at his funeral, finishing with "I love you, dad." The only time he ever called him "dad."

We've been blessed to have our fathers (mine died in 2002) such a long time.

1 comment:

Twylah said...

May God bless your husband and his father.