It’s strange to some people that at age 55 I’m still calling him “Daddy,” but that’s just who he is.
My dad believed in me. He thought I was funny and smart. Whenever I wrote something, was quoted in something, or achieved something (no matter how small), my dad was proud of me. He had a file in his cabinet that contained every letter, postcard, and newspaper clipping that I had sent to him in the past 15 years. I was glad I’d sent him so many things—and happy that he wanted to keep them.
My dad taught me that a person could be smart and still like popular culture. My idea of heaven would be lying on my dad’s shoulder watching “The Beverly Hillbillies.” He could quote Shakepeare and Milton, but still enjoy silly tv shows.
In the last few days he was alive, Daddy was having trouble seeing. It probably had something to do with the fact that he was losing blood slowly somewhere in his body. My sister, Patty, and I had to lead him into the kitchen to eat, and he made an allusion to Milton’s “Samson Agonistes,” where Samson has been blinded and has to be led to the pillars he plans to pull down. What class!
I love that fact that he kept reading, studying, and doing puzzles right to the end. One image I will never forget is that of him still trying to do the crypoquote several days before he died—when he couldn’t see clearly and when sleep was overcoming him more and more often. He just held the paper in his hand and still kept trying. He was the epitome of determination—still keeping his routines. Still eating his meals at regular intervals. Still rousing himself to call out an answer to Jeopardy. He’ll always be my darling Daddy.