Friday, September 2, 2016

Such a good man

We painted small plastic football men with toothpicks. Made a Crystal Radio kit. Spent countless hours trying to understand word problems with my math homework.

We bonded over crafts: pine cone Christmas trees. The doll houses he so painstakingly put together. Would my brother and I please purchase some contact cement for him? Oh, and could we pick up a small can of tan paint? Tan is such a good color for the outside of a three-story miniature home.

Blip, bleep goes the hospital monitors. Whooshing sounds; the ventilator--the most hated and loved of life-saving devices. Drip, drop goes the intravenous fluids. Dad lays there, drifting in and out of sleep. His eyes open for a moment and he waves to us as we stand gathered at his bedside.

Each one of us takes our turn to whisper words of encouragement. His grandson, my son Matt, who tells his beloved "Lamp" as he calls him, that his YouTube fans are sending out prayers and good wishes. This makes him smile. I know it's a smile, for I see those eyes twinkle still yet as Dad hears this. So proud of being in one of Matt's YouTube videos, playing the silly claw machine and winning a Betty Boop doll that the fans went crazy over. Several of the kids liked Dad so much, they even asked for his autograph.

My mother lays her head against his arm. Their fingers are entwined together. Sixty years. A good marriage. I show the kind nurses pictures on my cell phone of Mom and Dad when they first wed; those two gorgeous people in their early lives, so much hope before them.

I pray out loud, offering words of comfort and strength. Dad closes his eyes. He knows the Lord.

The silly names he has called us all through the years float through my mind and the nonsense language he invented. If we were shopping and he needed kleenex, I knew what the word lagogos meant. My son Matt has been Raymond to him, my brother, Matty or Boy. And my own magical names: toots, Tenya, Nice-a Toy. Oh I want to hear those words from his lips right now.

He wanted to talk yesterday, of that I'm certain. Knowing Dad as well as I do, I filled in the blanks for him as I watched his eyes and hands. I tried my best to envision what he might like to tell us all.

The silly hats Dad used to put on when we would be shopping together. Once he donned a type of fedora and pretended to be Hannibal Lector from Silence of the Lambs. A big, tin popcorn can went on his head one Christmas, and he breathed like Darth Vader stating: "Luke, I am your father." He unzipped his postal sweater one evening, singing "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood" as good as Fred Rodgers.

He loves Peter Sellers Inspector Clouseau movies. War pictures. Funny Farm with Chevy Chase. Marathon Man with Dustin Hoffman. I think of the hours we've watched and re-watched these films, able to quote whole scenes from them.

A good life. A good man. Even the nurses tell us this. When asked how he is feeling, they always get a "thumbs up" from Dad. From the little they know of our family story, and the times they were able to actually speak with him, every single person who has met Dad in the hospital says the same thing. What a good guy. Gracious. Kind. So sweet. Yeah, they have a small glimpse of who he is.

Keep fighting, strong man. Know how much you are loved, not only by your family, but by every life you have touched and blessed.


  1. This is beautiful! I am praying for you Uncle Rich! Love Donna (Donelda to you Unc)

  2. Karen, I feel I know your parents. You are so blessed to have beautiful memories of life with your Daddy. Mine are not so lovely, but I am thrilled yours are. Keep on smiling, my friend!

    1. Thank you my dear sister in Christ. Love you.

  3. What can I say to this. Love always shines through. Praying for you all. Including Mr. Rogers.