My Dad's Final Destination - Arizona
I didn’t think I could ever handle the passing of my father. I was a Daddy’s Girl. As I mentioned in a previous post, he was a dream father, all my friends loved him. He was a hard worker and maintained our home lovingly. We weren’t even allowed to cut the grass because he needed it done perfectly.
Yet as much of a hard worker and perfectionist as he was, I truly considered him to also be very laid-back, funny, gentle, kind, friendly, and a whole lotta fun. He was popular at work and among his group of friends. He was one of those guys that everyone liked, a lot.
He was also an attractive man and as laid-back as he was, his perfectionism to his abode also translated to his bod. He wanted his hair perfect. He was always aware of his weight and would work out, doing his push-ups in the upstairs hallway. He always wore speedos into his 60's. He would hate the photo I posted with Mom because he was on the heavier side then.
And let’s get back to that speedo. You have to be pretty fit to be able to wear one into your 60’s. Of course, no matter how good he looked I was still grossed out.
Dad had open-heart surgery and didn’t want any visitors because his hair was too messy. He was upset that his perfect body now had a nasty scar.
Dad liked it hot
As I mentioned in my prior post - My Parents Left Us - I thought they'd retire to Florida. I still don't know when or why they ever visited Arizona. But they bought a 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath single-level home with a pool and a very big and beautiful bougainvillea plant in front.
Mom said Dad was losing it
Dad was fine after the open-heart surgery. I really don’t remember when he started going downhill. Every time I spoke to him over the phone he sounded fine. But Mom insisted he was talking crazy at times. I figured my Mom and her cousin, who had moved to Sun City, AZ, were driving him crazy.
My Dad smoked until I got him to stop in his mid 40’s. But he ended up suffering from emphysema many years later. He needed his oxygen tanks. That’s when it hit me, that Dad was in trouble.
But the bigger thing was when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I still didn’t notice it, even though Mom had some stories for me. Like the time they went to visit my brothers in CA and Dad ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. He supposedly was saying some nasty things to my brothers and their wives. However, when I talked to him over the phone he was always fine.
I finally let my Dad go
Now that I flew and loved Arizona so much, I was eager to visit my folks. I normally only went once a year so the visits were cherished. Finally, I saw what my Mom was talking about.
Dad started talking some crazy stuff, like a man comes in every night and puts rubber around the tiles and the dog was doing backflips. He thought we were giving his Cadillac to my husband’s friend, who lives in Gilbert, and it made him very upset.
In a restaurant, he went to the bathroom and after a while, a waitress came to our table with Dad and asked us if he belonged to us - he was lost. We were one of the last tables in the line, and she had gone to each one until she came to us. And it got worse.
My Dad was always so proud, and I was always so proud of him. I knew he wouldn’t want to live this way, losing his dignity.
The last thing he said to me during that trip, on my way out the door, was “Judy, you’ve put on a few pounds since the last time you were here.” In a week of visiting, that was about the only coherent thing he said. He was losing his marbles but he could tell when I was gaining weight! I laughed all the way home about it.
My Dad died about 3 months later. His ashes are in a columbarium at the church they attended in their hometown of Mesa, AZ. One of these days when we’re more settled in Scottsdale I’ll have to pay him a visit. I haven’t been there since the day of the funeral.
Edit: We finally got a chance to visit after my Mom's passing, which was many years later. She had already moved to Gilroy, CA and lived there for many years before her death.