Dad

I recently had to be an adult and I mean a REAL adult.

I had to say goodbye to my beloved father. At 92 years and three months, and after the doctors had assured us he would make a recovery, my dad did not make a recovery. We lost him to what the death certificate listed as ‘natural causes’. Given how hard he fought to recover, I found nothing natural about his cause of death although it was not, given his age and health issues, entirely unexpected.

God, I miss my dad.

His will and wishes were all very well laid out. My dad wanted a wake and his ashes scattered at sea. I immediately commandeered the wake event, knowing I had the most experience professionally in this area. I also felt it was only fair, my brother and sister-in-law had hosted my mother’s wake more than a decade ago. It was somebody else’s turn to sweat the details.

Long story short, despite me agonizing over every detail many times over, the wake went off without a hitch. The solemn scattering of his ashes at sea, while incredibly sad, felt strangely final. At least for me, it felt very, very final. The family all came together for this, we all kept our tempers, tried our best and I even apologized to my sister-in-law for being such a judgmental pill all these years. It felt good to fess up to one of my bigger character flaws. Dad, I like to think, would have liked that.

At the end of the wake, the owner of the restaurant, whom my partner and I knew well, packed up all the food for us to take home. I asked my sister-in-law to take the desserts because she was hosting a brunch the next day. Even so, I still found myself with a whole lot of leftovers. A lot. I decided I had to use them all up. My dad has always been my muse when it comes to being frugal and he abhorred waste of any sort. I decided I had to use up all the food somehow. The chicken was easy but the wilted salad was a bit more challenging. I finally purred it smooth in the blender and mixed it in with the rice to make a tangy sauce. With some leftover cheese from the appetizer tray, it tasted surprisingly good. I then took all the mixed vegetables, chopped them fine and made vegetable fritters. Delicious. I packed up the pasta and veggies and sent them to my daughter’s house as she had a houseful over the 4th of July. I knew it would not go uneaten. By week’s end, the food was gone, all used up frugally with no waste.

Dad, I think, would have approved.

I gave my sisters trinkets and framed photos I bought off the memory table, I gave everyone who asked, a flower arrangement. Nothing went to waste, everything was reused and appreciated. I even got to see my former brother-in-law whom we have all always considered family (much more than my sister, his ex wife). I smiled at the story he related of how he and my brother had convinced themselves that they could rebuild an engine of a car only to discover that a tool they needed was going to cost more than the cost of getting itr repaired. I smiled as I realized we had all been impacted by my dad’s frugality. He grew up during lean times, the 1930s, and carried frugality with him his entire life. At the peak of his earning power, when he was raking in a very heft salary, I found him underneath one of his beloved bought used cars, He was replacing the muffler of all things, a formidable task given how big and unwieldly mufflers actually are. He had gone to a junk yard, bought a replacement and was doing the work himself. The repair shop, he explained, wanted far too much money. When I did the math from what he paid for the used part and compared it to what the repair shop wanted, the delta was far less than one would have thought but my dad, ever the frugal one, was having none of it. He did the repairs himself, as he had his entire life. Anything else would have been a waste of money. I get my frugal nature from my dad and I intend to honor him and his legacy which extends far beyond his frugality, for the rest of my days.

Dad, I think, would have approved.

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