Saturday night after our super successful pierogi dinner (we served way over 500), I had a good talk about deceased parents with another Men’s Club member, including minor stuff like learning how to read maps while being ‘shotgun’ on long road trips as kids, and an undeniable ‘good hair gene’ that means I have fewer silver foxes in my plentiful brown hair at 62 than most. Dad’s ‘good death’ after just two days in the hospital– versus a long, drawn out, painful, expensive, and wearying on family members decline—was six years ago tomorrow, so a few thoughts about Waldo Frederick Shorkey from Son #2:
- He won a blue ribbon at the Florida State Fair for a terrific secretary (desk) one year, but lost out on the big prize overall to a jewelry box, the only time I can recall him voicing dissatisfaction about unfairness.
- When I wrote a take-away piece for people attending their 50th anniversary in 2005, the first line was fact that Dad came down the driveway within five minutes of 5:00 every night, a consistency I’ve always told people was my ‘Leave it to Beaver’ life growing up.
- That he served his country—as did three brothers—despite a noticeably thinner left leg as a result of childhood polio. He met Mom in Tampa while serving on a destroyer escort, and with only periodic visits, they corresponded for three years before she turned 21 and Grandpa Sevigny let her get married. I’m obviously glad that worked out.
- I brought Mom flowers for my birthday last week, because she always appreciates them, and Dad put together arrangements for many, many years because he knew that.
- While he rousted four boys early many times to shovel a path down 150 feet of driveway so he could get to work, when we finally got a snowblower, he always told us to shut it OFF! before trying to clear any blockage of the chute. I know at least three guys who lost parts of fingers because they apparently didn’t get (or heed) such obvious advice.
- In reading some of the journals he kept while traveling after retirement (at 59!) its impossible not to recognize that whether it was a riverboat cruise in Europe, a chance conversation with someone who spoke English there and told he and Mom things of interest, or even the beef-barley soup a friend made–the first thing he was excited about eating in months after his stroke– his written reaction was always that “It was great!”
- He was a genuinely positive guy, and truly thought highly of by everyone. That my brother Steve said the Belgian family he was an exchange student with always asked how Dad was doing first vs. even Steve’s family, when he visited over the years has to be some kind of proof.
- He ate vegetables, which he really didn’t like, to be a good example to four boys.
- Every time someone gives me an attaboy! about being a good son for getting Mom to church for 10:45 Mass, I know Dad would appreciate both parts of that.
- When I’m thinking about something– like how to make a scene I’m writing work right-er, and I find myself tapping fingers on my left hand, I like to think it’s a signal from Dad, who was a lefty. His tapping the ring I now have on the steering wheel sticks with me.
I bounced the idea of providing a supply of a specific topical rub the company I’ll start work with momentarily (cbdMD) produces to an operation—Team Rubicon, made up of veterans and ‘kick-ass civilians’ doing disaster relief in the U.S. and abroad—because it relieves aches and pains from all that labor in a pretty amazing way. Helping make some small part of the world better seems like a decent way to be a little more like Dad.
And I believe I’ll have some beef barley soup for lunch today.