If he were living today, my father would be 96 years old.
While enjoying my niece Tiffany's wonderful wedding celebration, I had an unexpected experience while talking with several of my cousins. We were seated comfortably in an area adjacent to the dancing, when Bill, my Aunt Lois' youngest son, commented to me and all who were there, how much he liked Uncle Bob and remembered him with affection. I perked up and said, I too had fond memories of my dad and thought he was certainly someone worth knowing. My cousins Bill, Maureen, Chuck, Mary Ellen and I began trading little stories about Dad.
Reminiscing about Dad, Bill recalled that when he was little my dad used to let Bill stand on top of his feet while Dad walked around the room. It was a lot of fun. I remembered the same thing. Dad also had a way of letting us face him, hold his hands tightly, and "climb" up his legs to almost his shoulders and then do a back flip to land on the floor. That was super fun.
Bill also told how Dad helped him with an astronomy science project when he was in middle school. This stood out for him because it was the last time he saw dad or did anything with him. The next week Dad died. It was a shock.
I also remember how shocked I was when I received the message of Dad's death thirty-six years ago, September 27th of 1979, just three months after I was married. Dad died before any of his grandchildren were born; both Sara and Catherine were on the way by then.
One thing I remember about my dad's funeral, which was at the Lauterburg & Oehler Funeral Home in Arlington Heights, is that many, many people came to pay their respects and give their condolences. I was surprised by how many of them there were and how many I did not know. These were people who worked with Dad, Keeler Avenue neighbors, Buffalo Grove neighbors, and more. Many of them came to me to tell a story about Dad's kindness or an incident where he helped someone or went the extra mile.
Since that encounter I have been thinking about Dad and how unique he was. I'm going to write a series of vignette's about my dad, which I will post from time to time.