When I was a little girl I would often have thoughts of losing one or both of my parents. I don’t mean in a grocery store. Since my parents had me quite late in life it was normal for them to be planning for the day they would die. But as a little girl, maybe 6 years old, this seemed like the scariest thing that could ever happen. But that thought would pop into my head a lot. I would always get this overwhelming feeling of panic and within a matter of seconds I’d be hyperventilating because I would just cry so hard.
I lost my Dad 7 years ago today. I am writing this entry at about the time that I got the phone call. My Dad was 68 years old and had only been retired for a year. My Dad was an Immigrant from Germany. He came over by boat in 1951 with his best friend Frank.
They landed in Nova Scotia. Their work visas were through the railroad and they were able to come here because they signed up to build the railroad from Nova Scotia through to Kitimat, British Columbia. When my Dad died I got all of his things. The only thing my brother wanted were some medals that my Dad had acquired as a boy from Adolph Hitler and the German Military for participating in Hitlers’ Youth (to prepare the youngsters for the SS). The stories my Dad told in the 26 years I had him with me came back to me in the photo albums packed with snapshots of his antics and daily life as he grew up, his boat ticket for when he came across as a young man, pictures of him with dozens of different women as he made his way West over the Northern American continent and eventually settling for a little while in Santa Monica, California before coming back to San Francisco.
My father wanted the American dream. Open a business and work hard. Build a family, and retire in a home he loved with no financial worries for himself or for his children’s futures. He accomplished his goal 10 fold. But his line of work was toxic, his way of life was toxic. His wife and son were toxic to him. My mother admitted marrying my father for his money only and she made him miserable. He almost left me many times to go back to Germany to live because he had never learned to write too well in English and he could not fathom trying to keep the business open without my mom running the office. He would have rather given up and gone back home. But he never did. His business was his love. He was so different at work than at home. He absolutely glowed. His customers were loyal because he was the very best in the trade. You would have never known my Father was well off. He was the most humble man I will ever know. He was always generous. Sensitive. But he could be a mean mother fucker if he needed to be. He was the hardest worker I’ve ever seen and he could drink 8 tall Seagram’s 7 and waters, pass out drunk on the family room floor, snore so damn loud that the whole neighborhood could hear him but he’d always get up the next
morning at 4:45 am and make it into work at 7am to open up.
I just wish that he could have had more time to finally enjoy all the money he earned over all those years of hard work and sacrifice. But something tells me that when he finally did retire he felt like he had no purpose in life any longer. He had gotten a bad cold from my husband and ended up having a minor heart attack which spawned several strokes. I had just found out I was pregnant when he went into the hospital. The first night, they told us he wasn’t going to pull through it. I went in alone to be with him. He was in a coma. I sat next to his bed and talked to him. He had a a breathing tube in his mouth. I was crying, I had tried so hard to stay strong for him but there was no use. I begged him not to leave me yet. I held his right hand and thought about how long it had been since I had done that. I felt how rough his hands were from the decades of hard labor. He had the most beautiful hands ever. I cried hard. I begged him not to go yet. I was so angry. I was 25, too young to have to say goodbye already.
I hadn’t had enough time yet. I gathered myself and thought that I had better let someone else come in and spend some time with him. I stood up and moved close to him. I kept his hand in mine and I told him that I loved him. I watched his face. His eyes were closed and the machine that was doing his breathing for him kept on pumping. I told him again that I love him and he squeezed my hand hard and mouthed to me ‘I love you’. He held my hand hard a long time, shaking it – his way of showing me it’s ok, be strong. I felt better. He was fighting for me again. I knew it. He knew it. I walked out confident that he’d be home soon. I walked up to my family in the waiting room and burst into tears as I told them what he said to me. My husband was so happy. We held eachother and cried. All my Mother said was, ‘I don’t believe it, he hasn’t said that to me’. Dad did pull through but while he was rehabilitating in the hospital, my mother would sit for hours trying to have him say ‘I love you’ to her. He never did. She resented me. It was pure hatred she had for me. Still does. I lost my whole family the day my Dad died a year later. But I am
here to carry on his strong morals, his relentless devotion to the things he loved, his unselfish sacrifices of himself, his love of the outdoors, his love of animals, his love of socializing and partying, his whole legacy. My brother may be the one that carries on the family name but what my father left me is more valuable than all the material things my brother will buy with his inheritance.
I love you Dad and I miss you more than any words can ever describe
and I know you know.
I know that pain that you lived with that I never understood now. I know it. And you told me I would. I guess I am carrying that part of you with me too. You are so missed. I will suffer this loss until the day I die.
And now…stay tuned for your regularly scheduled programming…