Eighty-one years ago today my Dad was born, the only son of a doting mother and father. He died 20 years ago, before his 61st birthday. My brothers were playing games in the dining room. Dad was in his water bed in the back room. Joe and Cindy built the room for him after they bought the house from Daddy. Dad was confined to bed for the last 20 years of his life. He was able to walk around a bit, but was in constant pain from back surgeries, the last one a spinal fusion.
He was the friendliest of men. "Call me Eddie," he'd say as he shook your hand. A great gift that both of our parents gave us was that we all thought we were the favorite. In a poor family that is a great gift indeed.
I remember him prior to his back injuries. He and mom loved to go out to the tavern, or have friends over for cards, games, or just conversation. Those visits though required that he go to one of the neighborhood taverns (there were many) and get a jug of beer. In those days, that's how you bought it. It was always fun to be allowed to go along and watch the bartender fill the gallon jug with the beautiful amber liquid with the froth on top.
His extreme pain began shortly after our sister Jill died. He was in pain before that, but not bedridden. I often wonder if his grief caused him to give up. I'll never know, and I guess it doesn't matter. But he could hardly bring himself to talk about her. Mom and the rest of us would go to another room and talk about her beauty and how adorable she was and how much we missed her. Dad just couldn't stand that pain.
After he got sick, he shrank before my eyes. Not just physically, but also personality wise. But he was always happy to have any of us or our kids visit him, as long as we didn't interrupt his soap operas. Yeah, he got hooked.
I can still hear him laughing so hard that it would cause pain, but he'd still laugh. He's the one who taught me not to gossip. You'd seldom hear him say bad things about people. Probably one reason so many people loved him.
The family likes to think that the last thing Daddy heard was the laughter of the boys playing games. In honor of that, Joe and Cindy have hosted family games on January 1, the day he died. And as I write every 1/1, we then all go out to the cemetary and drink beer with Mom and Dad to celebrate their lives. It's one of the many reasons I love my family.
I love you, Daddy. I still miss you.