Pittsburgh was overcast that afternoon and i looked towards the gray-blue sky, i'm not nearly as composed as my sister and i took deep breathes as Nick Disaster hit the car door and jumped in, his smile a light among the gathering clouds, i kept my sunglasses on to hide the water pooling in my eyes, i told him Pops had fallen and that i was waiting to hear what was happening, i told him Pops had just gotten a walker and was having trouble walking but it probably wasn't good. There was a surreal fuzz to what was happening, to something i knew was going to happen, to something i had tried to prepare myself for even though i knew i couldn't.
At 3:47 my phone rang again, i was in the bedroom and i sat down at the foot of the bed, i could hear the breeze outside through and open window and the whir of the ceiling fan above me. My big sis said very calmly, "Dad passed away." My answer was, i know, i knew it when she called the first time. It was his heart. As we talked she mentioned that i had said it wasn't the cancer that would get him but his heart. There are questions we could ask but in the end it wouldn't matter. As my father said to me not long ago, "i'm a very sick man son." I told him what i told my sister, i know. Knowing doesn't make it any easier. What i know now is that i miss him immensely and that it's okay. His pain was increasing and his strength was decreasing and i understood. So did he.
You could say i'm biased when i state that the world lost one of the good ones that day. I am. Pops was an honest and decent human being. He loved the people he loved unconditionally and he looked out for them. He expected nothing in return. When he gave his word he kept it, a fact both his brothers stated and marveled at in my conversations with them. His greatest gift to me was to let me be me, to instruct me that it was my life to live and that i should live it however i see fit regardless of what he, my mother, or anyone else thought. It was the gift of freedom and i understand how many people never truly receive it. I plan on giving it to the boyos. There's a lot of things i learned from him i plan on teaching the boyos. As a spiritual atheist, like my father, there's not much to do now except get on with things. As my father told me during one of our many conversations over the last few months, "when i'm gone don't worry about me, i'll be dead," he said with a laugh, "worry about my grandsons and the other people you love. Look out for you sister and be nice to that mother of yours. I'll be alright, you just get on with it." And so that's what i'll do.