I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was wrapping Christmas presents in the family room downstairs in my home. The gift was a golf practice game for my husband. That's when the telephone call came that was to change my family's life forever. My Dad was in the emergency room at the hospital. Get there as soon as you can. My Dad? He's at a Christmas party with his co-workers. Mom went with him. And that's the last normal thing I knew. It wasn't the same after that.
Dad had collapsed while dancing a waltz at that Christmas party. He had finished a dance with Mom and one of the other women asked him to dance. I always liked to watch him dance. He was so graceful, and he loved to dance.
Dad had a massive heart attack and died that Christmas party night on the Winter Solstice, Dec.21,1979. I was 37 years old with a husband and three little girls. I needed my Dad and wasn't ready for him to fly off into the night, leaving us all bewildered below.
As I left the ER that night, on my way home to a new reality, I remember looking up at the stars and thinking of Shakespeare's Romero saying "And, when he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars. He will make the face of heaven so fair that all the world will fall in love with night and pay no heed to the garish sun."
Thr lessons I learned from him were many.He was always there for us.He worked harder then a man should have to work. He was proud, he loved Wyoming,and had the best sense of humor. He was comfortable around people and could shoot the shit with the best of them. One day I stopped to have lunch with Mom and Dad. I was stressed out over a job I had as a nurse. There was no job description and I had to develop it as I went. It was a big chance and a big challenge and needed constant interpretation to everyone. I was sick and tired of it and wanted to quit. As I talked to my parents about it, Dad said I should quit. He questioned the reasons the job was given to me, didn't they know it would be too hard? On the way back to work, I got mad. They were not going to beat me, I would show them I would do just fine, and I would do what I knew deep down I could do. Dad's reverse psychology really worked on me that day!
We just didn't have him long enough. There's lots I would like to talk to him about and tell him. I do that now, but his twinkling blue eyes are not looking at me, and his crazy faces are only a memory. I know life is a journey to death. He made his journey a legacy for us. I pray I can do half the job for my children that he did for us.
Good-night, Herm. Sleep well. Tomorrow is another dancing day, and you and Mom have the universe to waltz through. Don't stumble on the stars.