Twenty three years ago, in the wee morning hours our phone rang......that called changed my life forever. I could hear Rick's voice, I knew something was wrong, really bad.......when he hung up the phone, he told me to get dressed. I asked him if my dad had died.......I had just seen him the evening before, but I knew in my heart he was gone. A week before, he had been at our house chopping wood for their wood stove.......but he had lung issues and heart issues.......and I knew he was gone.
It seemed our family in a two week period had dealt with nothing but grief......my sister-in-law's dad had died and he and my father were good friends, neighbors had died, other family members had died, a young cousin had overdosed and my dad's best friend had died......eight funerals in two weeks......my dad's was the last.
I think about my dad today, he died when he was seventy-two. He had a wicked sense of humor and a heart full of compassion.......he lived by the Golden Rule. At his funeral, so many friends and family members talked about him and his kindness......how whenever there was a need, he was there to do whatever he could. He taught me to love and appreciate Sundays, that was the only day he didn't work.......to read newspaper comics, to love ice cream, to love family, to be a good friend, to appreciate oysters on the half shell, to shoot pool, to drive, he insisted I know how to change a flat tire, and the oil in my car and to always carry a coat in the winter whether I thought I needed it or not.
Before Christmas this past year, three of my friends dads died......all I could say was I am sorry. It made no difference to them that I knew how they felt, that I had stood in their shoes and had mourned the loss of my dad all these years.......how could I tell them, that even after all these years, the emptiness was still there, that his memory was such a poor substitute for him. That is a path you walk alone.
But tonight, I remember Sharky ( his nickname)......his funny corny jokes, our family vacations to the beach, and his wonderful Irish blue eyes.......I still remember his hugs,
and his best words of wisdom ever, "you have to work out your own salvation." Where ever you are tonight, I love you Poppa.