It’s my dad’s birthday today. He would have been 92. I thought it would be appropriate to begin my blog talking about my dad since the core of my advocate business was fired by the events that took place the last 6 months of his life.
My Dad was a veteran of the Coast Guard in WWII, born second generation Italian in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My mom passed away in 1994 and I was a single mom with a 4 year old daughter at the time. His granddaughter became his purpose in life, a key piece to seek value as you get older. As my daughter got older and busier with her own friends, we decided to reserve Friday night as date night with my dad. He also became busier with his friends and played poker once or twice a week with his buddies, was active in his church and had a had a group of friends he would go out with.
Life moved on, my daughter went to college and I married my high school sweetheart and I moved about 4 hours away from my dad. One weekend, I visited my dad on my own in April 2011. It had been the first time we spent time together without my daughter and husband or others. I can remember him saying how much he enjoyed having me all to himself and how much we laughed and got along so well. At 87, he looked pretty good, still driving his golf cart to the grocery store, playing cards and socializing. He had given up his car 3 years prior but not without a fight!
I got a call in May 2011 from his primary care physician that he had fainted in the doctor’s office and they had suggested he go to an assisted living facility for a while to build up his strength. He was old school and followed doctor’s orders without much question.
I can’t really remember much of my first visit with him at the facility. I was in shock that I must have missed something during that visit in April. It turns out that he had become more anemic and his mobility was failing him, specifically his feet. Within a few weeks I felt it was important to get a durable power of attorney and organize other financial affairs. It was if he had suddenly given up on life and everything took such effort. He would tell me how much he missed his house and that his friends didn’t come visit him.
I knew intuitively from my 30 years of nursing care of patients that my dad did not have long to live. I encouraged my daughter to visit him even while she was away at college. When he saw her his face would light up and he always smiled for the camera when she was by his side!
My daughter now has twin boys of her own and is married to a wonderful young man starting his career in general dentistry and she is a stay at home mom. They came to visit us this weekend and we reminisced about how life was with my dad and her grandfather who she called “poppi”.
He passed away November 20, 2011 and I miss him every day. Our Friday date night is my favorite memory with him. Cherish what you have today and schedule time with those who are important in your life as our bodies and mind do not last but the memories we create today will be with us forever.