Its 3:12 pm
So my Pops has passed away. I got the call at 7:43 pm from Solano County Sheriff’s Department yesterday evening. His body was discovered by his friend when he went to check on him. Every Monday afternoon,my dad would meet his friends,a married couple he had been friends with for years,at the movie theater to watch a new movie.
When he didn’t show or call by Thursday,his friend went the house to check on him and saw him on the couch. He could see he wasn’t breathing so he called the fire department and they responded only to find him passed on the couch. He was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and he was watching TV. I like to think he was watching a old movie or maybe some football highlights but was more likely to have been watching the news.
He and I had talked last week,he had been being treated for another little skin cancer growth and was waiting for the results. He wasn’t sick or ill….he just died of natural causes. When the sheriff told how they found him,I had to smile….James was in his beloved home,he grew up in the house,it was his parent’s home before they passed it to him. He was watching TV,he was independent and he was in sound mind and soul when he passed. Quite honestly I think he would have been perfectly happy knowing that this was the way he was going to die.
My pop worked for 25 years at the Mare Island Naval Yard,he helped repair and maintain both diesel and nuclear submarines,it was hard work but he was excellent at it.
He and my mother divorced at a young age and while it was very difficult,he stayed in our lives and supported us. It was because of pops that I became aware of professional sports. He would often quiz me on what college different players went to.
Sometimes he would call us kids while he had been drinking but he was always funny.
He quit drinking cold turkey when he retired and was proud of his sobriety as I was as well. He visited us when he could and we went to his small modest house in Vallejo.
When I moved to San Jose,I was within 100 miles but we only each other a handful of times yet we talked regularly on the phone.
While he didn’t understand my work in nightclubs,he supported me with encouragement and humor. We both started losing our love for pro sports and we talked more college ball. Where as we have never talked politics much,he was an avowed Democrat but not a blind extremist,he knew that this country was in trouble and he often wanted to talk about it.
When I moved to Michigan and married Lori Ann,he was again supportive. James visited us three times and he loved Lori as much as any father-in-law ever has. He told me what I already knew,that I had found the perfect wife and he told me to love her forever. Many times I would come home and found Lori talking on the phone,I would go upstairs and change my clothes and come down only to learn that James had talking with Lori.
When my dad’s best friend Coke passed away and Lori’s mom got Alzheimer’s,the dynamic shifted from a deep friendship into a father-son relationship as I talked my dad into making sure he had a safety plan in place as he was growing older.
When Lori got sick,James listened to me while I vented my fears,hopes and despair as she slowly slipped away.
By this time,his back was really starting to hobble him and for the first time in my life and the only time,I heard James cry when told he was unable to fly out for the funeral.I told I understood and I wanted him to stay comfortable.
By now the majority of my dad’s friends were either dead,dying or moving away.
I begged him for the last five years to move out here with me but he just couldn’t do it,everything he had ever known was in Vallejo,my dad lived his in entire life in the house his parents had. He really didn’t want to handle the cold weather here in Michigan and after the past two winters,I understood that. He always was checking how our weather was out here and was always amused when I told him snow stories.
So I am now flying back home to lay him to rest and to good bye. He may not have been the perfect dad but that never stopped him from being there when he could.
I love you Pops and I’m going to miss you terribly. I really wish you could have met the cheetah,you would have loved him….
Oh,Happy Father’s Day.