The post-funeral reception on Tuesday was a chance to hear stories from his friends, both from the dental and golf communities. I had no idea that he would take my mom to the grocery store and load up a cart or two, and take it all to the local Food Share. There were the stories of when he started his dental practice, and his liberal use of the barter system. Or the oft-told story of the Labor Day golf tournament in Butte, where he led after the first day after shooting a 69 (after a celebratory night of free drinks, courtesy of the Butte boys, he went out the next morning and put his first two shots out of bounds, and ending with an 84). Everyone had a story or a memory. The pictures that the grandchildren put up on the poster boards sparked even more memories for many of them. It also gave us an opportunity to see how much his health had affected him. You can see that below.
There's so much I could write that would bore you to tears, but I wanted to say something. I opted for reposting the one I did for his birthday/Father's Day from 2006. Adjust the years, but everything else is just the same...
Yes, this is Dad, and today is his 72nd birthday. Since it's close to Father's Day, I'll take care of business here, too. This man has supported me through thick and thin. He hasn't always understood the paths I've chosen over the years, but he's never tried to interfere. He worked very hard at his dental practice to put 4 kids through college, and still have enough money left over to spend 3 months/year in Hawaii for the past dozen years or so (my inheritance going right down the tubes there....). He's been married to the same woman for almost 49 years. He's bailed me out of jail, not when I was a teenager, but in my mid-30's. He's survived 2 major heart attacks within 2 months of each other. That was 9 summers ago. He used to smoke like a chimney, but quit cold turkey after the first attack. He will give you the shirt off his back. I have never heard a negative word said about him. He's been strong through some adversity, but cried like a baby when his mother-in-law died. He is on a variety of blood thinning meds that make his face purple. And if you look at his arm funny it will bruise. He's got two new knees, will be getting a new hip this winter. He still plays 18 holes of golf about 4 times/week. He has made peace with the fact that I will probably not be carrying on the family name. And he's glad that his daughters were fertile.Finally, the picture below on the left is from 4 years ago in Miami. Both of us were a bit bigger than we are now. And the one with my mom is from last month on her birthday. The last night anyone got pictures with him. You can really tell a difference in his look. Even moreso in the family picture from last Friday. There's not much more to say. He's gone, but he'll never be "gone". Gonna miss him, though.
He is the greatest man I have ever known. Perhaps that's why it hurt so badly when two of my bloggerfriends lost their fathers unexpectedly this spring. I wish you guys had the chance to see your dads in your later years. I don't take it lightly that Dad saw the "light" when he was on the table for the second heart attack. I cherish the golf we still get to play together and the family dinners with all of us. So Happy Father's Day (early), and Happy Birthday! I love ya, Dad!
In my mind, the Christmas season can officially start tomorrow. In a different twist on the Mystery Guest thing, we're going to dispense with the "mystery" part of it. I've been plugging her efforts for the past couple of weeks, but now 'tis the season. Ashly Star has been supporting the efforts of the US Marine Corps Reserve Toys For Tots Program over the years. Last year, she decided to go public with her efforts, and asked other bloggers to help out. I don't recall what her final numbers were last year, but she bought a boatload of toys! And to allay the fears that she might pocket the money herself, she documented her toy-buying spree and posted the pictures online. She's already started this year's purchases, using her own money, and some of the early money that's come in.
In the spirit of the season, please consider making a donation to her efforts. It doesn't take much. She's not asking for even $20 from anyone. Small donations of $1 or $5 add up quickly, and that's what she's looking for. Of course any amount will make a difference. You can find a PayPal donation button on her Toys For Tots page sidebar, so it's no work at all. Click, type a handful of keystrokes, and help her make the day of a number of disadvantaged youth. She's not expecting as good a turnout as she had last year due to the economy. Let's prove her wrong, OK? It's almost the Christmas season, and no kid should go without a new toy.
There's a definite turkey theme going on over at "...the Other HNT" this week. Feel free to go back for seconds, but be sure to leave some comments for your hosts!
Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving! Especially those of you having to travel. Enjoy the "enhanced security" groping if you're lucky enough to have to go through the procedure!! And for those of non-American persuasion...hope you have a good weekend too!
And for everyone...if you get the chance to hug your parents today, be sure to do it. OK?