I got the late night phone call all adult children know is coming some day, but you are still never prepared: My dad was found unresponsive in his room at his assisted living facility Saturday night. All efforts to revive him failed. He had died.
Eleven days after his 91st birthday, he went to join his wife who passed away in December of 2010. As was his style, his latest doctor checkup pronounced him in good shape with no obvious issues. When asked how he felt, the answer was always the same: "Fantastic!"
By all rights, a man born in 1924, who rarely exercised, had a quintuple bypass in 2002, smoked for twenty years, and lost his beloved wife of 63 years over four years ago should not have been a part of my life for so long. But, good genes and a stubborn will prevailed until a few days ago.
He was a tremendous dad to three sons, a grandfather to seven, and great grandfather to four. He provided a steady, loving hand to everyone who was honored to know him.
And, now I am experiencing the same feeling my wife did quite awhile ago when both her parents passed: being an orphan. It feels very odd knowing there is no parent to talk to, share something with, or celebrate holidays together. While dad's short term memory was pretty much gone and his interest in carrying on a conversation was severely limited, he was still my father and still enjoyed my visits and our time together at lunch.
His dedication to my mom and what makes a marriage last have been a guiding light for me for the nearly 39 years Betty and I have been together. He was a simple man, dedicated to family, being a steady hand in all situations, and always sending out positive vibes and support.
Dad, you will be sorely missed. I love you.