I never knew my Pa like so many others knew him. He served our country, he lived overseas in places like Germany and the Philippines and he was a dentist specializing in the gums. All of that happened before I was born. As long as I’ve known Pa, he has been retired and never in the best health. I don’t think I ever saw him prepare his own meal and watch much else on the TV besides sports, Dr. Oz and the assortment of judge shows.
Over the past year, Pa’s health has spiraled considerably. His memory has become unfortunate and he became weaker every day to the point where standing up could take an hour. In November my mom and I traveled down to Austin, Texas to care for Pa and my Memaw who is also in unfortunate health. Aside from a two-week break in early December, I have been down here caring for them every day through emotional and physical trials.
In this condition, I learned about my Pa in a different way; the truest forms of himself arose to the surface. He was a man who cared deeply for his family. Several times a day he would ask what everybody in the house was up to and wanted to know what the rest of his grandsons and granddaughters were up to wherever they were in the world. Coming to sit at lunch and dinner was a valued part of his day. Even though he couldn’t understand the conversations, he wanted to be around those closest to him.
He had a simple sense of humor that on paper was not very funny, but was always entertaining to see the sparkle in his eye of being proud that he’s telling a joke. He laughed at almost everything and he had the most wonderful grin. When I told him that he would blush and then smile again because he knew I liked it. His modesty was a way to protect everyone. Even on his final days he would always say, “I’m fine.”
Spending a lot of time with him the last two months, we went through the worst together. There were a lot of difficult and frustrating times that were very sad and embarrassing. However I never regretted being down here. We sat and laughed every day as I told him stories and we talked about the silly acts of Live With Kelly and Michael.
Pa never fully understood what was happening to him but he was able to focus on the greater things. No matter what happened he always knew that he was loved. He left behind two daughters, a son, four grandsons, a granddaughter and a diva Shih Tzu who cared for him deeply and were always there for him. It broke my heart how much pain he was in so I am overjoyed he is now in peace. His presence contributed to the joy of this Austin home. Goodbye Pa. I shall miss you.
|The last photo of Pa. Even though I don't even think he was hungry, he asked for some bananas so he could have a meal with everyone. He was able to eat them on his own, but Memaw still wanted to feed him.|