Monday, November 12, 2012
November 05, 2006 - Gone, But Not Forgotten Nov 5, '06 6:49 AM for everyone Yesterday was my dad's birthday. Had he managed to get through life without emphysema or asthma, maybe he would've been 89 yesterday. But he never wanted to be dependent on others. He wanted to take care of himself as much as he could. And that he did... to the extent that it was possible. Even with the limitations placed on him by his illness (including being on oxygen), he still got up and got dressed every day, even if only in pajamas. He came to the table for his meals rather than asking my mother to bring them to him in bed, or even in the recliner. In 1996, he was tentatively and preliminarily diagnosed with lung cancer. He wasn't expected to live more than three months, and many people were not betting on three weeks. But he refused the possibility of chemotherapy and radiation; indeed, he refused the biopsy. He filed a "do not resuscitate" order with his doctors and was sent home to die. Hospice came in and provided as much as possible to make him comfortable... and he proceeded to surpass everyone's expectations by living four more years. A few months after hospice told him he'd lived too long and they could no longer treat him, he became ill with double pneumonia, and he died on March 21, 2000. My father was born in 1917. He grew up hard on a farm and was a child when the Great Depression came along. When Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941, my dad was there. He served in the US Army Air Corps through the end of the war, and he and my mother were married in June 1946. He was a hard-working man whose education came first from high school (back then they only had 11 years of public schooling), and then the School of Life took over. He had been a machinist in the military, and he continued to work at that in civilian life. His days were spent at the machine shop, and his evenings and weekends from March to November were spent working in the garden. We never had a lot in the way of material things, but we always had something to eat, even if it might not have been just what we wanted. We never had to go to bed hungry. My father was also very economical. He never threw anything away if there was a ghost of a chance it could be used for something else down the line. When the environmental movement came along chanting, "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle", they didn't have to work hard at all to enlist the cooperation of my siblings and me. It was already a way of life for us. Above you can see bits and pieces of odds and ends that my dad collected over the years... and you'd be surprised at how often all those little things came in handy when making a repair or building something! And one of the things he built, long ago (I can't remember when it wasn't there) was the packhouse. I wrote about it some time ago, but I mention it again because it's where the vegetables he and my mother grew (with some assistance from us kids) were stored in the freezer for the winter. It was also a place for keeping lots of other things... but I've already written about that. Sometimes I think about how lost most people would be if they had to be even half as self-sufficient as my dad was. Myself included. This is just to say that I have a great deal of admiration for the man who gave me life. He's gone now, but he'll never be forgotten.