28

Holding Dad’s Hand

My father died. They called us from the hospital, early-early in the morning with news he was in serious distress. I have always suspected he was already gone by that point, or nearly so. There had been some telephone mix up. A transposition of telephone numbers and they were unable to reach his home. I said I would handle it, and we hung up, but the phone rang immediately with my sister saying only “It’s time”. When I came into his room, it was crowded. There were a lot of students and someone explaining how to remove various tubes and hoses. I asked the first kid I saw if it was over and she… went into shock. I turned to the next with a similar result. Clearly, we had not reached the how-to-talk-to-family chapter of the textbook. “I am Virgil’s son. Can anyone here tell me if Virgil has died this morning, please?” Finally, a voice near the front said, “Yes. we’re sorry for your loss.” I explained the family was coming and we would like the room, please, and if it all possible, could they continue to remove the various tubes, hoses and apparatus? This was quickly done while I waited outside the room. At some interval, I saw my sister coming down the hallway with Dad’s widow. I didn’t […]

21

It’s A Dog!

I love having a dog. For years, I whined about not having one. I imagined myself going on long walks to the park, taking a book and bit of kibble. Telling my secrets and plans to a pair of dark, soulful eyes who listened without judging. I never knew it would be so good. My sister Amy got us our little boy several years ago. Supposedly a Miniature GoldenDoodle. But he has grown to 60lbs and more depending on how much of a “Good Boy!” he’s been this week. She got him from a breeder near her and plans were made for us to travel to pick him up over the holiday break. Snowy weather forced the rescheduling, and rescheduling and rescheduling of the transfer until I started to worry her children might think the dog was their own. But in due time, Kathie and I loaded up the car and headed off to Hannibal, Missouri, to pick him up. We were nervous. It had been years since either of us had a dog, and this would be the first time either of us would have a dog alone, without a parent or sibling on hand to offer up tips or suggestions. We drove off into the afternoon, wondering if we’d brought enough puppy pads, did we bring enough of […]

16

The Father’s Day Picnic

The Hiatt Family Reunion, held in and around Norfolk for about forty-five years, was held every year on Father’s Day. Now everyone is gone. I miss the cousins, the laughter, the Double-KK chiggen, the illicit fireworks. The stories. The introductions. The mosquito bites. The old men playing horseshoes. The babies being changed on the tables in the back. The screams as a family that nobody expected rolled in from California or Texas or some other exotic locale. Nobody ever called ahead to clear the menu with anyone. Nobody ever said “I’m bringing Jell-O salad” or “I’m going to bring meat loaf” and yet we never had a year when all there was, was cole slaw or chicken or something like that. A Father’s Day Miracle! There was enough for all, and there was always a great variety. Lots of food, lots of drink. Lots of laughter. It Wasn’t Easy, To Begin It was an obligation, every year. Mom and Dad made me go. I hated getting ready, and until things really got popping, I hated being there. But then I hated to leave and I was always happy I went. One year, I took my new girlfriend, Doreen. She was nervous about “meeting the family” but seemed to relax and open up as she realized we were all just folks. […]