The relationship we have with our parents is no doubt the most influential relationship in our lives, for good or for bad. I have thought about writing down some of my thoughts about Dad for months now but today, the day after he has gone into hospice care, is the day. I can’t help but look back and examine the influence he has had on my life to date, and will no doubt continue to have for the rest of my days.
Dad always worked very, very hard. He wanted to succeed at everything he did. He didn’t finish high school until he was about 78 when he took his GSD. He was very proud of that success, as well he should have been. No person succeeds all on their own, though, and our Mother was his stalwart companion, his equal, in every sense of the word. She had the added quality of smoothing out some of Dad’s ‘sharp bits’.
I was a little girl and remember sitting in the little utility room at our house on Main Street in Bethel, trying to draw one day. He seldom had time for small things with us, but this particular day, he sat down on one of our little chairs and showed me his version of how to draw a woman’s face. I wonder if he remembers that as clearly as I do? Probably not. For it is often not the things that we intend our children to remember that make the biggest impression on them. Awkward.
There is a photo of the three of us as young children, 3,4 and 5 years old sitting in the grass intensely engaged in a ‘kid thing’ with a feather and my newly acquired hospital bracelet, which I was still wearing after release from hospital. It is a gorgeous photo and, I think, possibly the pride of his creative endeavours. There were many, so that is a big call.
I shared two trips to Italy with my parents over the years. I sensed it was a great source of satisfaction to Dad to experience the culture and the people of the land that was part of his heritage. In the classic Italian tradition he was always a ‘hands on’ guy, able to make just about anything he put his mind to, a quality all three of his children have happily inherited. He was very proud that he held a patent for a piece of equipment he designed, and rightly so. How many of us have that credit to our name?
Dad’s greatest goal in life was to support his family. He was a great provider under adverse circumstances at times. Most people knew him as the man who grew the Christmas trees. He called himself a ‘farmer’. It was an unlikely career for a man who studied music and probably never visited a farm when growing up. He lived in a small village and knew nothing about farming when he started growing trees. It took seven years from the start of growing the trees before he harvested the first tree. That was seven years of him trying to fill in the family income with part time work in between growing trees, but mostly living on the income Mom brought to the family as a nurse. One year, the company to whom he sold the trees tried to default on the agreement and Dad told them he would burn the trees before he would sell them under the conditions they wanted. He burned the trees. It must have been heartbreaking for him.
Dad loved wildlife, the animal kind, not the hell-raising kind. We nursed numerous orphaned baby animals that he would bring home from the farm, among them skunks, foxes and rabbits. He loved sunrises at the farm, Mom’s cooking, especially her fried chicken, and he loved his children and grandchildren. And in recent years he loved the company of their dog Angel, who really was sent from heaven to give them a lot of joy.
He survived five years in the army from the age of 17. He was a musician and a litter bearer at Guadalcanal and due to a permanent inner ear problem, extremely seasick throughout the Pacific tour of duty. He survived cancer, kidney stones, and multiple bouts of Malaria and pneumonia. But Parkinson’s was the thing he couldn’t beat. Dad was a fighter, even at times when it wasn’t necessary. But he was determined to live life on his own terms. Dying was hard for him. Living had been hard too, but he had succeeded. Finally living became too difficult, however, and the dying has won out. I have just learned he passed away, almost exactly at the same time I was writing these words, so hopefully he will know I loved him and wish only peace for him.
Dan Parsons said:
I am truely sorry for your loss. I met your Dad a time or two. I remember him as a kind man who was very proud of you. I am sure he was equally proud of your brothers. Growing up we never realize what lessons we will learn and memories we will keep from our parents. You spoke good words my friend.
Thank you Dan. He lived a good life and left a wonderful legacy.
Ardys I am so sorry for your loss, your Dad was a very wonderful caring person. I am so glad I got to meet him and help him with his computer needs. He really loved life. He showed me things, I never would have known about. The slot machines he kept that worked and how they worked is a fond memory of mine. That was amazing. When I would go and help him with some little computer glitch, I would always learn something from him. He was a real gem and I am happy to have meet him and your Mother. Hold on to your memories, cherish each everyday. Love ya!!!
Thanks Michelle. He was a special guy. Did you notice the slot machine in the photo?? X
Keith Shebesta said:
Ardys, ironically the only conversation I had with your dad was when we were selling the things left behind after my mother’s passing, my dad already being gone. This was in 2002 and we were having a yard sale when your mother and father stopped in. I always remembered your mother from the doctor’s office and had seen your dad but had never really talked with him. He was full of wit and interesting conversation. He told me how Don had “stolen you and took you to Australia of all places!” I really had to determine if he was serious but then I saw a smile come to his face. Of course I remember getting a Christmas tree seedling from grade school years, I still cherish the times that your brothers, my brother and you and I walked from your Main Street home to elementary school. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
My condolences on the passing of your father. He sounds like a wonderful man who loved (loves) you very much.
Bettyann Marx said:
My heart cries for all of you. There really are no words to take away your sorrow and pain. I will pray that His comfort brings each of a joy knowing your Father was a true inspiration to many…he has success, even in death. Love and hugs to you, Bettyann
Sheldon Corsi said:
Very well written Ardys. Thanks.
Ardys, this was such a wonderful tribute. After reading your email, I had decided to call your mom to see if there was anything she needed from me while your dad was in hospice, until your arrival. Now I will still do that to let her know we are thinking of her and your family during this difficult time. Losing a parent is a difficult thing; we go on but never will we be the same as before the loss. Sending love and care to you.
Maralah Rose-Asch said:
I am so sorry to learn of the passing of your dad. A very hard working man. One who taught you, Lance and Sheldon so much. A great mentor in his own way. He loved his family very much. May you find peace and comfort in the support from family and friends. Hang on to all those wonderful memories. Please know that I am here and waiting for you to advise what I may do for you.
My blessings and love always,
Betsy Bulow said:
Those words are beautiful. My father was very close to your parents and I remember visiting as a child. He was one of the most intriguing people I ever met. From his slot machines to his musical instruments there was never a dull moment. God bless
Pastor Cochise said:
I’m a friend of Sheldon’s, and I want to say thank you for these words. They made me look back & frontward to think about what I have done to impress, and can do to put in their minds, the image of a good father.
My condolences to your family.
Be kind to your children, that will live longer in their minds than anything. Thank you for your words.
Jay Corsi said:
From a grandson’s perspective perhaps one of the things I will remember most fondly was his humor. He always playfully poked fun and had a corny sense of humor that I enjoyed. In his later years he would tell my wife, “has anyone ever told you that you have the most beautiful eyes?” He would ask nearly every time he saw her and sometimes twice during a visit. We would do a double take, not sure if he was forgetful that day, and then a mischievous grin would creep across his face. He would make me smile and my wife blush at the same time. Thanks for making me laugh, Grandpa.