2024-01-15 (Week 2302): Losing a Parent
The worst came to fruition, and my father passed away on Monday night of last week. His health hadn’t been the same since a weeks-long bout of pneumonia in August 2021, but he was able to come back out of it. I spoke with my half-brother recently, and we both thought that was the end for him, so these last two-plus years have been bonus time with him.
I’m taking it a lot better than expected because outside of a few intense moments of grief and sadness in reflection, I appreciate him for everything he did for me, and I can move forward from this with repose. There were times growing up when we butted heads pretty hard, but in hindsight, I could see he was doing that to toughen me up for the world to come.
My mom is having a more challenging time with things, so I’m taking a few days off from work this week to discuss things with her and help her tidy stuff at the house. She’s been his primary caretaker since the bout of pneumonia, and he’s been bedridden ever since. He was close to returning to walking but didn’t quite make it.
I’m not sure how to memorialize him. He was a carpenter by trade and was always building things for my mom and me – desks for my school work, bedframes for me as I got bigger, toys, chairs, tables, cabinets for the kitchen, and many other things.
I got much of my creative spirit from him, but it manifested in different areas. I did alright with woodworking, as I made a lathed wooden bowl that I keep my guitar picks in, and I built a toolbox that I gave Dad for his tools. It’s on the mantle of the fireplace of my childhood home with knick-knacks and souvenirs in it, so at least it found some use. That said, I took wood shop in 8th grade, which was 30 years ago.
One afternoon in 2005, which is likely my most meaningful memory with him, we helped one of my aunts in Tennessee build stairs for a porch attached to a shed in her backyard. It was the first time we had connected as peers and as father and son.
He also introduced me to Busch beer that day, which was likely uninteresting to him but led to me taking it with me to gatherings of friends, culminating with shenanigans we dubbed “Busch Olympics.” It was a 90+ degree day in May of 2008, so our group (about ten deep) went to the local grocery and drug stores next door to each other and bought two 30-racks of Busch, a slip-n-slide, and a wading pool.
We’d put cans of Busch on the side of the slip-n-slide, then try to grab one, spin over onto our backs, and drink a good portion before we bonked into the kiddie pool. We wrecked our friend’s lawn, and some injuries and sunburns were involved, but it was mighty memorable. There’s also a video somewhere of me doing the Stone Cold Steve Austin-style pour into my mouth from a reasonable height, and almost all of it is going in my mouth, but the person who took the video is no longer with us either.
His influence could have gotten me into beer and exploring the vast depth and breadth of different styles, even though he was primarily a German pils and American light-lager drinker. Rainier was his brand of choice when I was growing up, though he did have some Olympia from time to time.
In his younger years, when he was in the Army, stationed in western Germany during the Vietnam War, he told me how much he enjoyed drinking Parkbrau’s pilsner. I wanted to get him some, but they don’t export to the United States. One of these years, I’d like to get to Germany to try some, but we shall see what the future holds.
I’m not sure what else I have to say, but I’m confident going over to my childhood home later today and helping my mom go through his old things will spark some more memories and stories. It’s the end of an era in my life, and I will feel the loss for quite a while.
I love you, Dad, and I’ll miss you. I hope your travels in the next plane of existence take you to those you lost and missed while you were here.
I’d send this one off on a cheery note, but that feels disingenuous. I plan to be back next week with another blog entry.