Last Saturday, my dad took his ballroom dance lesson. On Sunday, we chatted on the phone. Monday night, he and my mom ate ice cream and watched the Memorial Day celebration from Washington D.C., and when the band played the Navy Hymn, he stood and saluted, as one might expect from a World War II Navy veteran. Then, my dad went to bed.
The next morning, he was brain dead, the result of an aneurysm. He died one week shy of his 96th birthday.
My dad, who grew up in Irwin, Pennsylvania in a family of coal miners, graduated from Penn State University and received a masters degree from Seton Hall, thanks to the G.I. Bill. He was a proud veteran who loved history and shared his war stories with me. He was fly fisherman who taught me to cast into a garbage can lid in the driveway. He taught me to love wild places and the creatures that live in them. He was a recovering alcoholic who treasured those 35-plus sobriety chips. He was a grandfather and a great grandfather. We shared a love of sports and we ice danced together. Then, when he hung up his skates at 80, he turned to ballroom.
Here’s to you, Dad. One last dance. I love you.