October 26, 2016
When my father retired from IBM, I remember my mother complaining about how he would sit around in his pajamas all day and watch old Gene Autry movies. It only lasted about three weeks before he got up and decided it was time to start the next phase of his life as a non-employee.
For over 30 years my father went to work Monday through Friday, every day wearing a suit and tie. Every meeting, every conference, every event, every business trip my father wore a suit and tie. Every Father’s Day we would buy him a new tie…because that’s what he wore…every day. If daddy decided he was going to wear his pajamas for three weeks straight and watch old movies all day long, that was his prerogative. I never worried about him during those weeks. He spent his entire adult life building a career and providing for his family…wearing a suit and tie. To NOT wear a suit and tie was a dream come true, let alone at age 55!
I recently found a photo of my sixth birthday:
I laughed and cried when I saw this photo. Despite my father being away on business, he came home in time to give me my present:
This is Teddy – he’s now 45-years-old and has been with me ever since, through every minute of my life. He lost his clothing and shoes at some point (theory is that ole Dressy Bessy, Teddy’s first and only squeeze, took ’em), but he’s not embarrassed. He’s had ear, eye, chest, arm and leg surgeries over the years, all performed by Dr. Daddy, but he’s still in one piece. He now lives in my closet, but it’s insured safety from our cats. Every time I look at him, I think of that 6th birthday party…and I think of daddy.
My father wasn’t always there when we needed him, but he was there when it mattered. I thank G-d every day that my father was privileged to retire so young. He had 25 years of retirement – 25 years of cruises with mom from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Alaska…25 years of gardening and chasing critters from eating his bounty…25 years of playing “beat up the kid” in his pool…25 years of garage sales…25 years of New Years and Valentines Days, St. Patrick’s and Easters…Mother’s Days and Father’s Days and anniversaries and birthdays…Independence Days and fireworks and sparklers and Labor Day barbecues…Halloweens and Thanksgivings and Christmases…25 years of all this with his children…grandchildren…and great-grandchildren…
Wearing his pajamas and watching old movies all day long later in life worried me more. Dementia robbed my father of his ability to think about getting dressed. Watching the television was disturbing and unpleasant. Travel was impossible. The pool was gone. The last garage sale sold off the remainder of their belongings before moving to their final home. Holidays, anniversaries and birthdays were somber, me and my sisters having to take my father out to buy gifts because he could no longer drive. There were no more fireworks and the barbecue rusted out back. I prayed for G-d to have mercy on his soul – my father knew he couldn’t and didn’t want to live this way. His soul was granted peace before it was immersed by dementia’s grip…and I thanked G-d for his mercy.
One year ago today, I flew to Milwaukee to say goodbye to my big brother…
…and there was my sky…
I prayed to G-d for mercy once again…and I thanked him…
The orthopedist told me to “give it one more week…” Guess what I did today?!
Rockin` to and fro
Back in the saddle again
I go my way
Back in the saddle again”
Back in the Saddle Again – Gene Autry
I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours