So my father has been gone just as long as he was with me on earth. Here’s a brief synopsis of his life. Born in Kentucky, lived in boarding schools with his older brother David, went to University of Oklahoma- ROTC, served in World War 2 in among other places under Patton in North Africa and he was actually on the Champs -Élysées on VE day, became a full colonel in the Army, has pictures with Bob Hope, Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield during what appears to be USO shows. He was married before my mother and had a daughter who now lives in Maine. He served a full career in the Army and then went on to become a vice president of the Long Beach, CA Chamber of Commerce. He worked for a startup company that did hazardous waste cleanup. He was pretty much retired when I was a kid, attended every practice and game, took me to every rehearsal. He kept going to college even when he was old- learning more foreign languages and whatnot. He always had stories to tell of his military friends and adventures, and he always had a semi-racist joke chambered which always left me a little uncomfortable. We had a clear generation(s) gap to contend with but to this day, I still love hanging out with old people.
During college, I knew that he was getting on, so every visit home ended with a crying goodbye as I wondered if it my last time seeing him. I’d lay with him in bed and sometimes talk about things though I don’t remember what about- I was more concerned with his breathing and thoughts of death. I had no clue what I'd do after college, how to find a job, network, deal with office politics, etc. But it was kind of late to start discussing it with him. He eventually succumbed to age and I was able to visit him in the hospital before he actually passed. He had a little dementia before the end and a few scares- like the time he disappeared in his Cadillac and ended up in Dana Point (about 30 miles south of home). His final hospital stay was pretty short and I told him I loved him and although he couldn't say it back to me, I knew he could hear me and that if he could answer he'd say the same thing. The day I got the official call that he had passed, (I was back at school) I had a final. I took it and did fine. I didn’t really cry at his funeral- I guess because I was prepared. It actually took me like a full year to cry after he died. My girlfriend at the time joined me at a veterans cemetary by school and I spent some time at the flag since he was actually buried at sea and we had no actual place to visit his remains.
Now I could easily end this here, but the timing of certain events will double this little entry. So if for some reason, this has made you a little sad, I need to go over another topic that’s related.
When I was a kid, my parents got a Dalmatian for the family. Of course we named her Spot and she was a cool dog. She ran like the wind, only knew how to “sit” and she was an outside dog. If ever she did get inside she’d do these insane laps around our giant two story house. She’d run up to my parent’s master closet and just start digging at the floor- like she was looking for a bone. When she’d get out of the yard, she’d just bolt. And the only way to get her back was to physically get the car, chase her down and open the door. She was flat out nuts like so many other Dalmatians, or dogs in general.
But even though we got her as a puppy, she eventually got on in years. At one point she got a tumor in her chest so we had it removed. Later, her hips started giving out on her. She started going blind- to the point where when we’d take her for a walk, when she got to a curb, she’d instinctively try and hop up the curb and collapse when she landed. It was pretty sad.
So how does this event from 21 years ago relate to recent times? Well, my brother Bobby is still single and besides living with roommates, he’s unattached. Some years ago, Bobby inheirited a dog simply named Girl. Now Girl came from an abusive owner and had been permanently scarred with a fear of men. Whenever we’d go visit his house, Girl would always go hide. I could never go wrestle with her or even leaving her alone with the kids was a little sketchy as she was very much a regular dog- protective of her space and stuff. We on the other hand have our own dog named Molly who will always shy away from overfriendly dogs, will never growl, will never bite and will even let you scrape the tarter from her teeth without much protest. I guess we have a weird dog- but now I've strayed from my point...
Bobby was pretty much the only male that Girl trusted. He has pictures of the two of them on trips and just hanging out. Several years ago, Girl got a crazy illness caused by foxtail that bores into dog skin. It caused enormous boil-like sores and essentially can cause organ damage if not surgically removed. Bobby rallied his friends to have a “help pay for Girl’s surgery” party and he was able to offset the costs. Within this past year, Girl got sick with a pneumonia-like illness with a nasty hacking cough. As Bobby is a musician in a touring band, he couldn't really stay home with her, but he did make the right decision to postpone a trip out to visit us to take care of her instead. She recovered somwhat from that too thanks to his love and affection.
But last week, Girl took a turn for the worse. As he posted on Facebook: