My dad has a little brown spot on his hand. And when I was little he told me it was a ticklish spot. We were in our den and he was on the phone. I decided to tickle the spot.
“It’s not ticklish when I’m on the phone,” he said.
As it turns out, Dad wasn’t very ticklish at all. But he was amusing.
And he did smile a lot. And laugh a lot.
They say that people who smile tend to lead longer lives.
Maybe that explains how Dad stayed with us so long.
Or maybe Sylvia is responsible for keeping him around.
My 16-year-old mother asked my dad, then 24, to her prom. He said no. She was too young.
But in 1949, mom had blossomed into a young woman and dad knew a good thing when he saw it. They were married for more than 60 years.
And yes, while they bickered, “Joe! Take your pill!” “Sylvia! For God’s sake! Would you?!” He stuck around, in increasing discomfort, for her. He didn’t want her to be alone.
So I invite you all after mass and in the weeks and months to come, crowd around Aunt Seeya. She knows Dad’s fine. It’s still very tough for her.
A while back he was recovering in rehab and leaned over,”Joey, I remember what my Uncle Jimmy told me. He said, Joe, I’ve lived a full life. Don’t feel sorry for me when I go.”
Dad continued, “We have three great kids. You and your sisters, you all got married. You have loving children. You’re good parents. I’d say we did pretty well for ourselves.”
I’d say he did very well. In dying, he shared his love and humor with us until this, his new beginning.
We five, his immediate family, held hands a few weeks back, each telling him we were ready. He could go.
And he held us. And he loved us.
I said, “I have this image of Grandma and Jeddo up there in Heaven looking at their watches saying, ‘What the heck is taking him so long?'”
In death, he was listening to a Bible passage, took one last deep breath, and went to God.
Two years back, I was afraid my children, still very young when we moved to the West Coast, might not remember my father very well.
So I’ll leave you with the words I recorded that day in rehab.
Yes, it was meant for my little ones.
But if you listen closely, you may take away the most important life message, from this most extra-ordinary father, father-in-law, husband, brother, son, godfather, uncle, Jeddo, veteran, businessman, Christian, and friend.
Do you have any advice for them? Life-long advice?
Life advice. Whatever you do, just do the best you can. Never do anything half-assed, you do it all the way, or you don’t do it at all. That’s all I can tell ya. Your mother and father are very smart, and they say you guys are too. So you listen to them and you do all right.
Have a good life. I love you very, very much. Good bye.
Good bye, Jeddo.
Good bye, Honey.
:: Joe Hage is a storyteller for medical device marketing consultancy Medical Marcom ::