My life has gone from going to heck to going straight to Jigoku*.
When I was 2 months old my father had a stroke. My father told me of how the nurses snuck me in so he could see me while he was hospitalized. The stroke would leave him with a useless left arm, and a brace for one of his legs, along with walking with a cane. He later lost the brace but always had to use a cane to get around.
I remember stories of when he was in the service. Like when it was so cold that the water in his canteen froze.
Or how when we went anywhere he told me to hold his hand so he wouldn’t get lost.
When my father took me to my brother’s hockey games he always got me a hot pretzel. Or he bought a bag of Santitas on his way home from work. He said they were both like gold to me. And I’m still addicted to those snacks.
My father would wake up very early for work and turn on the radio in the house. It would wake me up and I would go to him, hug him, and wish him a good day at work. He returned the hug and shooed me back to bed before he got in trouble for waking me up.
We would have just us time when he went to a donut shop to get a coffee. He would read a newspaper while sitting across from me. I had a Boston Cream and a Hot Chocolate (often with cream to cool it off a bit.) Over time I learned to read upside down. My father also loved chatting with the people at these places, introduce himself, and get to know them.
He was laid off from his job in my junior year of high school. I didn’t understand why he was home early that day and that’s when I learned about pick slips.
My father went on to tutor math at a technical college. He helped a lot of people, especially those who had disabilities. My father wished that he could get a teaching degree, but he felt that he was too old to go to college again.
Even though he was handicapped from the stroke, he still drove a large truck. I always thought that was awesome. He rarely seemed to let his disability get in his way. Though there were times he told me he wished he could have held me or tossed me like he had my older brothers. But that never bothered me.
I am both heartbroken, and extremely grateful for all the times we had together.
Back left to right: Mom and Dad.
Front left to right: Kevin, me, Kenneth (Ken), and John.
Funeral arrangements are being set for Monday. I’ll be traveling up to Kentucky over the weekend.
*Jigoku is the Japanese word for Hell. I like it better than saying Hell because it just feels more intense.