Several years ago, I wrote a post about March Madness and was referring to the start of my daughter’s Region I soccer season. This year I am again not referring to the NCAA basketball tournament. I am sure “The Big Dance” will make its way into my blog in the upcoming weeks but for now I am referring to the last week of my life and the craziness that has ensued.
My father died on Tuesday. Sunday had been his 71st birthday. I had, after much thought as I was coming down with a cold, made the trek over the hill through Whitney Point and Greene to Norwich. While I did not bring the birthday cake I had thought I would have had time to bake – you see, Dad was a diabetic so I was playing with some recipes so he could have his cake on that Sunday, I did bring potato soup (no salt but a little turkey bacon in it) and vegetable noodle soup made with turkey broth. I also baked some chicken breasts, breaded with mustard, cayenne and a few other spices, and made a mild chili while visiting. Dad was holding court in the living room with the SU basketball game on television throughout the afternoon as my sisters and I did the daughterly chore of cleaning out the cupboards of all the foods his recent hospital stay had left him unable to indulge in any longer.
After my oldest son – no child on his own at 24 and home to help me out with getting to Norwich – and I left Norwich, Dad refused to eat much but Jan said the chili was perfect. I’m glad she liked it because I normally make it much hotter than I did last week but I eat a lot of spicy foods. Little did I know that day would be the first of several with me travelling over that set of hills daily – to Norwich and home to Union Center.
I don’t know where to go from here. My father, as I said, died on Tuesday. By yesterday afternoon, I had met, hugged and shaken the hands of many whose lives he had touched – from reporters to firefighters to police to authors, from residents at the Firemen’s Home he so relentless voluteered for to employees at the same Home to the other trustees for the Home, from people I knew at least from their bylines, if not in person already, to those I had heard him mention in passing.
While my children and my siblings and my stepmother and I grieved, we were surrounded by other “families” that my father belonged to. We were saved having to make all of the minute decisions of the funeral service and calling hours by a dear friend and fellow firefighter. When I was trying to get additional copies of the newspaper comments, the family there came through with a simple message regarding my printing inabilities.
As yesterday drew to a close, I know that the celebration of my father’s life had been just as he would have wanted it. He had his reporter friends in one corner and his firefighter friends in another – both surrounding his family.