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My continued apologies to anyone who’s tried to contact me recently.
Early in the morning on October 11th, my mom called me with the news that my dad had passed away earlier that night of a sudden, completely unexpected heart attack. He was 62.
He had spent that day burning some brush and mowing the lawn. He ate dinner with my mom, watched a football game, and went to bed at his normal time. Fifteen minutes later, he came back downstairs complaining that it was too hot in the bedroom, and he was having trouble breathing. He went out on the porch to cool off. My mom could tell something was wrong, so she followed him outside. He asked her to call 911. The ambulance arrived quickly, but they couldn’t do anything for him.
When my mom called me with the news, I packed some clothes and got in the car. Eleanor came with me. We stayed in Virginia with my mom for about a week. We did a lot of puzzles, watched a lot of television. A lot of flowers came. A lot of people stopped by. A lot of them brought food. We talked about my dad, and tried to figure out what we had to do now.
Everyone says things like this, but don’t take your loved ones for granted. My dad was never much of a talker, especially on the phone. When I called home, I usually talked to my mom, while I heard him muttering questions for her to ask me, in the background. But a few days before he died, my mom happened to be out of the house. So I spent a little while talking to my dad. Ironically enough, a good friend of his had just died of a heart attack, and he was pretty shaken up by it. We talked about that for a bit, and about my dad’s plans for putting in a new bridge over the creek near our house. And about how SPX had gone for me. And how my mom and dad planned to come down to Savannah in a few weeks, and about the restaurants we could go to. I don’t think I said “I love you.” It wasn’t the sort of thing one said to my dad. But we talked, and I’m grateful for that.
My dad had just retired from his job a couple of months earlier. For the last 36 years, he had worked almost 7 days a week as a German professor in the Modern Languages Department of the Virginia Military Institute. He and my mom had a lot of plans. They were going to travel, visit Germany. My mom had finally gotten her passport only days ago. They were going to make some renovations to our house. They were going to fulfil a lot of long-postponed promises. But I guess nobody really dies at a “good time.”
We all relied a lot on my dad. I didn’t really get along with him when I was a teenager, mostly because he was one of the most “grown up” people I’ve known. He worked hard for decades to make sure we had what we needed. He had the sort of sense of humor that a kid just doesn’t get, and he was incredibly smart and well-read. It took a long while for me to understand and appreciate him. I wish I had a little more time to get to know him as an adult.
But we’re going to be okay.