With Dad at my high school graduation. ❤️ The hat. The beard. The tinted glasses. The toothpick in his mouth. That mischievous grin. The green Franks Nursery jacket that could never button. That big beer belly. The smell of his Swisher Sweet. It’s all so familiar to me. Thinking about him here makes me smile. And although I miss him terribly, it’s like he comes right back to life when I take time to remember him.
20 years later I sat with my Dad watching him stare out the small hospital window. He was never quiet in all his life. His body was too frail to move much and even if it could, he couldn’t go anywhere because he was hooked up to machines. I asked him what he was thinking about. “That sunshine. The breeze. The taste of beer. The smell of Wrigley Field. Man I would love to get out of here and just go down to Wrigley again. . . .do you think you can get me out of here?” . . . He points to his head, “But It’s all in up here though. And I can go back there, to anyplace, just by thinking about it. Take lots of pictures in your head, Linnea. That way you can always relive it.”
My Dad saw a few more amazing miracles happen right there in that hospital room in the following weeks, leaving us with some powerful final memories of him. He died a month later. Well, his body died. But that spirit of his isn’t gone yet. He lives on in all the people that loved him and all the memories we made with him that are relived every time we think about him. What a gift.