Today, November 26th, marks 21 years without my dad. It is a day that I think will be forever etched into my brain. I was 17, my brother was 11 and it was the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Let me tell you a little about him. I may have known him for a short 17 years, but he lives on within me, all his children and the family that remembers him.
Some would call him a gruff older man. He had a stern look, and it could be classed as a little intimidating. He was born in June of the year 1928. Smack dab in the great depression and right before WW2. He served in the air force and was a photographer. I think that deep down he wanted to be a photographer. Instead, he followed his father into carpentry. Eventually becoming the super intendant for RM Shoemaker. He oversaw schools and hospitals being built.
When he was 18, he got married and had three children. As I was not part of that time, I have little knowledge of what he was like and the daily goings on within their household. At some point I will need to talk to my half-siblings to perhaps get a better picture of what our dad was like during that time. Around 1976, he met my mom when he was working on a section of the hospital, she worked in.
My mom was a very different person then my dad. She was a free spirit and a hippie. She still very much is a go with the flow type of person. Perhaps my dad needed a bit of free spirit within him. He was a very regimented man. But with my mom he laughed, and it seemed to bring out the “comedian” in him. They were married in 1981 and I was born two years later.
My dad taught me to swim. I joke and say he threw me in and said ok now swim. But he was there to make sure nothing would happen to me. He made sure that I wanted for nothing and my mom always seemed very happy. They only ever argued over money as my mom tended to spend a little too much. I think I get that part from her. I am crap at finances. Sorry dad.
He was strict. He had the belt, and I was a fairly good kid, but I had a mouth on me. He often said I needed an attitude adjustment. I could be a little shit sometimes (heck even now I am). We spent 6 years in Southampton, PA. It was a nice quiet life. In 1989 my brother was born, and my dad wanted to achieve a dream of his and own a farm. We moved to Hammonton, NJ. My dad put me into riding lessons, and I learned to ride. We had horses, goats, and chickens. My mom had a beautiful vegetable garden and my dad seemed to be loving life.
When I got a bit older, I started to hang out with my dad. Whether it be in his room where he repaired watches and jewelry, or when he was in the upstairs garage where he had his woodshop. I would ask him questions about his life and other random things. He would answer me for the most part, but I know I could get a little annoying with my thousands of questions. I knew he had enough when he would tell me to go find my mother.
He taught me how to grade coins. What I was looking for in specific coins. He even taught me about testing for the type of gold an unmarked piece of jewelry was. In the short time I knew him, he taught me a lot. I knew about respect, manners and to be a young lady. He may be a little disappointed with me for some things that I have done over the years, but I think overall I have made him proud. I hope so anyway.
I knew my dad was a lot older than the usual parent. He smoked most of his life and years were not that easy for him. So, he had a lot of heart and breathing problems. We spent most flu seasons in the hospital when he would eventually get pneumonia. For some reason even with these incidents glaring at me, I never really thought he would be gone as soon as he was.
On a dreary Sunday morning, my dad took his last breath. He died in his sleep, in his favorite chair. All in all, that is how I would want to go. No more pain and comfortable at home. When it first happened, I felt numb. No feelings and not knowing what to do. Like it was a bad dream that I would eventually wake up from. It took a few days until I felt the full force of what I lost and ever since I have a cry session when I let myself think of it. It may be 21 years, but it feels like yesterday that it happened. I will continually feel the loss and the part that is missing.
I still move forward and live my life. I had some rough years that made me wish he was still around to guide me. I know he is still watching out for me and the rest of the family. I will be forever grateful to have gotten the years I did with him. I needed to write this in memoriam rather than just my simple post on social media with a picture. I felt it needed to be done. And with that I say to my dad the same words I last said to him the night before he passed “I love you and goodnight”.