Dear Ole Dad died on 12 Dec. 1992.
He had had a stroke in mid-November, and wound up in the VA hospital in San Antonio. Of course I was told of his stroke, but decided not to go down to San Antone. At that time I was of the mindset – ‘What’s the point? To see a pissed off man languishing in his own crap?’ I had seen enough of that throughout my life.
Finally, on Dec. 12 I returned home from a trip and told Sue that I ‘probably’ should head down – to see Dear Ole Dad… She agreed, so that was the plan.
Early the next morning I received a call from Mom; Dad had died during the night. All I could think of was, “Well, good – maybe now he’s at peace.”
I don’t know if I went to San Antone so much to mourn Dear Ole Dad as I did to drink. After all, I had just lost ‘my Father!’ And drink, I did, thank you very much!
On the morning of his services we went to the funeral home for a final viewing. His services were to be held at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery. When we got to the home, I wasn’t very shot in the head about going in. I was perfectly content to just sit in the car, and drink. However, Mom and Sue both told me I had to go in, so…
When I saw him, laid out there in his casket, all I think of was, “Gawd Dad, why are you so pissed off?” He looked angry, even in death. I didn’t stay long, didn’t need to. I had seen him ‘angry’ all my life…
There was a short service at Ft. Sam. It was a cold, drizzly overcast day; maybe a dozen or so folks outside of family in attendance. A few folks from his favorite ‘watering hole.’ After a few meaningless words were said, by a minister who knew nothing of him, there was a 21-gun salute. Haunting, in that weather, for sure. And then, Taps.
As we were about to leave, Mom was presented with Dad’s flag, and 3 spent shell casings. (In a 21-gun salute, there are 3 volleys fired, using 7 guns. The 3 volleys represent, “Duty, Honor and Country.)
I remained in San Antonio for another week or so, to help Mom get her affairs in order, and drink. After all, I had just lost my Father, you know. When I came home, I decided to bring Dad’s flag, and the 3 spent shell casings.
Upon arriving in Whitehouse, I didn’t go right home – I instead went to the cemetery. To the grave of my grandmother. I had always been very close to my grandmother, ‘Gram.’ It was not quite dusk, but it was turning dark that afternoon. Might have also been overcast. I took Dad;s flag with me, then knelt down at Gram’s grave, and asked her, “Gram, what more could I have done to have made him love me?” And I cried… “Why wasn’t I ever good enough?” I asked. I was 46 years old…
It took me a long time to realize that there wasn’t anything I could have done – to have made him love me. I’m sure today, in his own way, he did love me, but he sure as hell, wasn’t ever able to show it…
My take-away? I let my kids know, as often as I can, how much I love them… maybe I’ll call each of them today.
I was on a trip somewhere when I got the call Dad had been taken to the hospital so I rerouted to see him and of course, give any assistance to Mom that I could. Mom, for whatever reason, stood by him all those years. She was sneaking in VO/7 to him in the hospital even. But she did make him his favorite Chicken and Noodles dinner one last time.
At the time, the license plate stickers had come in the mail, so I put them on Mom’s car. Dad asked me if I put them on and I said “Yes” and he followed it up with “Did you scrape off the old one first”. I got the “Son of a bitch” when I told him no. To this day, I take pride when slapping the new decal over the old one.
I was at home the morning Dad passed. Mom called, I asked her if I should come down, and she said because I had seen him just a few days before and you and Deb were on the way, I elected not to.
For some reason, Dad and I were always closer in life, but further apart in death, I guess. I’ve never felt a real sense of sadness or of missing him. But sometimes, a situation will come up where I do quote some of his humor. Like the time in Atlanta when he got a call from a Funeral Home trying to sell him a plot, and he said “I don’t plan on staying here that long.”
Your father was a prime example of mine and I think it reflected the times. My mother
explained to me his past and I realize that it was due to the way he was treated by
his father who would beat him for even the slightest infraction. Like you I learn from
the way I was treated and remember not to pass it on to my two sons from different mothers. To sum it up, I think they did the best they could with what they had and
they do love us dearly as much as we do them.
In the end here James, I agree with you… Mom told me that she once asked ‘Dear Ole Dad’ if his father ever beat him. He replied with a curt, “I don’t want to talk about that,” and that was the end of that. I think therein lies the answer. I harbor no ill feelings toward him anymore – and if anything, am grateful for having him as a father. I have stated throughout here in my blog, he saved my life. Through his behavior he showed me what I would become if I wouldn’t stop drinking… I am so grateful I saw it… Thanks for stopping by. Bob