One year ago today I was flying home to be at the bedside of my dying father. I don't dwell on it, but the anniversary is there, and I often think in terms of anniversaries. And one observes anniversaries.
Daddy waited for me to get there, just as his mother waited for all her children to come to her when she died in 1982. Reviewing the events of Christmas 2016, I realize how I missed so many signs that he was coming to the end of his time with us. But he held on for Christmas at home because, as he communicated to his aide, he wanted to sleep in his own bed one last time.
I also think it's significant that he died on the wedding anniversary of his parents, but I recognize that I might find it more significant than he would. Daddy was devoted to his parents - mercy, they moved in next door to us when I was a year old, so he was Johnny-on-the-Spot when they needed help - especially his mother. In the years after Grampa died, Daddy would take his grapefruit next door in the morning and have breakfast with Granny.
He loved to have the family together, and he created week-long summer vacations for us to be together every year at one of his timeshares, or at D*****World, or twice on Caribbean cruises. I realized in 2006 that I'd better start saying yes to those invitations while I could, and I'm glad I did.
He made a lot possible for me, most very especially Interlochen. He discovered it, found a way to make it work, sold Mother on it, and then me (I didn't need much selling). And he was proud of his role in saving my life in this way. He placed a high value on education, evidenced by his reverence for the Great Books and his repeated reminders that he'd pay for as much education as we wanted. He was always disappointed that I didn't go on to get a doctorate and teach, but that was not the life I imagined for myself. He observed to Mother when I was in college, "Robert actually enjoys what he's studying." I guess that wasn't his own college experience, when basketball was his driving passion and business administration was his major.
Two songs come to mind when I think about my father: "Detour," 'cause he used to sing the chorus (he loved country music), and Perry Como's "Prisoner of Love." Only within the last ten years did I learn that he sang that to Mother when they were courting. But the movie that changed his life was Rhapsody, because it introduced him to classical music, which he also loved and enjoyed.
The white rose at the top of this column was from the arrangement of white flowers my best friends sent for the funeral. I photographed it in the seat pocket of my seat on the plane back to Boston two days after the funeral.
Rest in peace, Daddy.