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Orphaned

My dad died Friday afternoon. Exactly 27 days after my mom passed, my dad left to be with her.

Just like with my mom, this was not a surprise (it would have been a surprise in 2017, for both of them, but not in 2019). My dad spent seven days at home after my mom's death. The rest of his time was in the hospital or at a hospice home. Caring for his wife of 54 years with ALS took a lot out of him and my dad was masking quite a few illnesses while he looked out for mom, including metastasized cancer and heart issues. Also, it was very clear, my dad didn't want to be on this earth without mom.

I'm doing OK. The shock passed quite a while ago, long before Friday. I was simply pleased we could find an excellent place that would care for him in the most ideal way possible. It was so much more peaceful than a nursing home or hospital bleeding you dry. We are fortunate.

But it's not easy to shake that feeling of being orphaned, even though I'm long past childhood. Losing both parents in a month's time will do that. "OK, I'm in charge now," was the prevailing thought, followed by "I'm not ready."

My dad was an interesting character. He raised three boys and all three of us would say we could not figure him out. He was a good dad and raised us well. We all received our senses of humor from him and I could always bond with him through wry quips and observations. My dad also liked silliness, just like me. But he was also gruff and complained loudly about injustices in the world and was not afraid to bark at anyone and everyone. He loved being in charge, thrived off of it. Many people enjoyed my father's outgoing nature, and as my mom said way back, "your dad is not a stuffed shirt." But he also wanted things handled in specific ways and woe to those who didn't follow the rules, whether it be sales people, employees or his own kids. My dad used his car horn more than everyone I've known in my life combined. His patience was in the negative numbers. And there were moods. Oh, the moods.

That said, I grew up in a loving family with two loving parents who knew how to raise kids who would raise their own loving families as well as hold down jobs and be successful contributors to society. It's the reason I took so many trips home to help care for them. In the last year I have heard so many stories about kids who ignored their ailing parents. I could never do that to my folks.

My dad liked southern gospel and classical music and westerns on TV. The very last thing I did with my dad was watch an episode of "Gunsmoke" in his hospice room ("Muley," 1967). To a lesser extent, my dad liked baseball and football. His favorite teams were the Boston Red Sox and New York Giants. He was never as avid a sports fan as his three boys and he progressively cared less and less through the years.

But my dad would play catch with us out in the backyard when we were young. He was one of our youth baseball coaches for a couple of years. Even when we were older, I remember a couple of times when Dad and all three of us would go to the nearby high school field and my dad would hit fungoes.

I've mentioned several times on this blog that my dad collected baseball cards as a kid (probably in the late 1940s) and that his mom threw them out. His favorite player was Ted Williams. So I won't repeat myself too much, here is a post that sums up his fandom.


This is the last Ted Williams card I pulled prior to my dad's passing. It's from last year's Topps Update. It's kind of an odd photo as Williams is shown shaking hands with a Yankee (the card is about Williams' performance in the 1941 All-Star Game).

Modern cards of Williams are rather weird and especially when I'm thinking of my dad and him collecting cards. That previous post that I linked also mentions that I wanted to find some playing days Williams cards to honor my dad and I am grateful that I was able to land one a year-and-half before he passed.

I have my eyes on a couple more right now because it's the best baseball-card way I know to pay tribute to my father, although it's a bit of a shame that it took his passing to spur me into action.

When I reflect on my parents, I know that I take after my mom more than my dad. My creativity streak comes from my mom. My demeanor and my introverted personality do as well. I look more like my mom, everyone says.

I get my love of music from my dad as well as my sense of humor but maybe not much else. He could build anything. I can't. He fixed cars. He ran the neighborhood. People gravitated toward him sometimes even while he was yelling at them. He commanded respect.

As they say, at the end of your parents' lives, you find out things about them that you never knew. I certainly did with my dad. Not only did I discover much more about his military career (he served in the Air Force) but I gained insight into why he behaved the way he did for so many years.

And that made me accept the way he was instead of recoiling these final months. It was tough for any of us to get close to my dad, but those last couple weeks with him were probably as close as we've ever been, as he lay in his bed and discussed the diners he had been to with mom and the best route to get there. I mentioned that my second article for Beckett was in bookstores and, never one to show his boys how proud he was of them, he smiled and nodded.

Yeah, I won't miss the yelling but I will miss my dad. He did things the way he thought best and the main reason was because he wanted us to have the best.

I will do the same. In my own way. It's my turn. I think I'm ready.

Comments

Dennis said…
Sorry for both of your losses, Greg.
TSHenson said…
My thoughts and prayers are with you during this time of great loss Greg.
Mark Hoyle said…
Sorry to hear this news Greg. Prayers are with you and your family
Scott Crawford said…
I feel like I've typed this way too recently, but I'm very sorry for your loss, Greg.
Billy Kingsley said…
Very sorry to hear of your loss, but what a great tribute.
defgav said…
Sad news. Wishing you the best, Greg.
bbcardz said…
My sincere condolences to you and your loved ones, Greg. I can relate to your words about a father being gruff and taking after Mom. We endure the good and the bad and always hope for the best (knowing it probably won't pan out). But whether we like it or not, we adjust.
Old Cards said…
Sorry for your loss.
acrackedbat said…
so sorry the grieving continues Greg. That's a lot to go through in a month's time, and difficult no matter the time between heartaches. Keep the good memories close. Thinking of you!
John Bateman said…
My grandmother died 2 days after The Raiders beat the Eagles ( I have a 1981 Topps FB card for that game) Another grandmother died during the 1991 NBA finals ( I have an Upper Deck card from that series) My grandfather died the day Joe Carter won the World Series with a home run. (I have a fleer card noting that moment.) Scott Kingery debuted on the day my mother died (I have his Topps now debut card). I will definitely follow Scott Kingerys career.
steelehere said…
Sorry for your loss.
Jeremya1um said…
Sorry for your loss, Greg. Thinking of you and praying for you during this time.
Commishbob said…
Oh Greg, words fail other than to say other than I feel for you and your family in this time of loss.


That was a nice tribute.
Brett Alan said…
What a well-written and honest piece about how complex our relationships with our parents can be.

My thoughts will be with your family. It sounds to me as though you’ve been ready for a long time, and that you are very good to your family.
Nick said…
So sorry to hear this, Greg. It's hard for me to even fathom what you and your family must be going through right now. Hearing that you were able to tell your dad about your recent Beckett article made me tear up a bit -- that's a touching memory from his final days you'll always have.
Sorry for all that you've been through lately. Your family is in my prayers. If you really like silliness.......
Your next venture maybe being called grandpa..... HA, I got you there didn't I?
Very nice tribute. Sorry for your loss Night Owl. (I lost both my parents in an 8 month span.)
SumoMenkoMan said…
Oh wow, so sorry for your loss. The way you articulated him in these words....he has to be looking down smiling!
DMA said…
I'm sorry, Greg.
Don said…
That was a very nice tribute. It made me think about my parents. My wife's mother passed away 6 years ago. It too was a long illness, but the time we spent with her was wonderful. There is not a day that goes by that she does not cross our minds. I'll be praying for you, especially this weekend.
Adam said…
Condolences my friend. That was a very nice tribute post to your dad.
Vrooomed said…
I don't think you know who am I, but notwithstanding, I just wanted to express a couple thoughts. 1 - You have my sincerest condolences for your losses. Thankfully, I haven't had to cross that bridge yet with my parents, but as they are mid- to late-70s, I understand it's inevitable. So I feel for you. 2 - The way you write is amazing. A gift I don't have. So when I see that gift in others, I appreciate it even more. Keep up the great writing. What a talent you have. Take care.
Greg, I have no idea how you feel. I can't even imagine the pain of the loss of a loving parent. I will be praying for you and thank you for sharing with us.
Big League said…
I am sorry for your loss.
Sean said…
This post is a great tribute to your dad and your connection to him, which I think most of us can relate to and empathize with your loss. I'm really sorry that he and your mom passed.
Fuji said…
The way you describe your father is very similar to the way I would describe mine. I truly admire how you spent the quality time with your mom and dad looking out for the as they looked out for you when you were a kid. I've tried to do the same with my parents the past few years. Anyways... I'm truly sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family. It's actually been with you on more than one occasion during this rough year.
GCA said…
My parents divorced when I was about 8, and my Dad and I weren't real close until I was in my mid 20's. But it was fine after that. He's been gone 12 years now. Mom is still going strong. That will be the tougher one.
All the best to your family.
Very sorry for your loss.
Bo said…
Condolences on your loss.
Bo
Matt said…
My deepest condolences for your loss.
CaptKirk42 said…
Sorry for your loss.
GTT said…
Very sorry to here that. That's really tough. I'll pray for you.
Keeping you in my thoughts. So sorry to hear about your loss.
arpsmith said…
So sorry to hear this Greg, deepest condolences my friend.
Jon said…
As others have already said, this was a very nice tribute. My dad and I were never close, so his passing didn't affect me in the least, but if my mom were ever to not be around, well, I don't think I would be handling things as well as you seem to be.
Rob said…
Man, what a tough year - you're in my prayers.
Nick Vossbrink said…
Ugh. Only just saw this. So so sorry for your loss. Hang in there.
Jafronius said…
Late in my condolences, sorry. Rough year for you, I pray it gets better.
Jeff Laws said…
I know it doesn't mean much, but I am truly sorry for your losses. I lost my Father when I was young but I can't imagine the day when I lose my Mother. If you look at my collections (White Sox fan) who collects a famous Cub (Billy Williams), that would be my Father's favorite player.
RunForeKelloggs said…
Sorry to hear about your losses recently. Thanks for allowing us to know some of what you experienced. Better days are ahead.
Adam Kaningher said…
I'm sorry for your losses. Sad to have them happen so close together.
Bru said…
Oh man, Greg. I’ve been off the blogs and busy, so please accept my belated condolences. This was a fabulous post and a nice tribute. Hope you’re doing well.

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