Thursday, June 2, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 06/01/16: Dad Died in 1996, Shelby Died Today, Quiet Day

1. On June 1, 1996 -- twenty years ago today -- Dad died early in the afternoon in his own bed, in his own bedroom. A month earlier, a doctor in Spokane had told him and Mom that Dad had liver cancer and only had about a month left to live. The doctor was right. I was with Dad when he died. He died to the music of Paul McCartney and Wings, playing on VH1 on the little television on his and Mom's dresser. I don't remember which song, but I know it wasn't "Live and Let Die".

I reflected today on what sticks with me about my dad after 20 years. I always come back to one lesson I learned from him that has endured:  you never miss work -- and I should add to this, especially just because you've been drinking the night before. Dad walked the talk on this one. I know there were mornings after he'd been bowling the night before or had a few too many beers at home or Dick and Floyd's when he felt like hell in the morning, but he never missed a shift. This ethic of his defined my employment at the Zinc Plant on weekends during the 72-73 school year and until I was injured at the plant in July of 1973. Plenty of Friday nights during that school year, I stayed out until after midnight with a morning shift coming up, but, no matter what shape I was in, I always went to work. I'd go into the cell room or the anode shack, get to work, and sweat it out. This ethic defined my work as an instructor, too. I missed work if I were ill, but otherwise, I showed up.

As I've grown older, I've come to appreciate more and more how much my friends and other people around Kellogg enjoyed my dad for being a great guy -- he was quick to laugh, teased people all the time -- most of them loved it, loved to bullshit with friends over coffee in the morning and beers later in the day, loved to play golf with his friends where he was a big, gregarious, and colorful figure on the local golf course. I'm not that gregarious, but I try to follow my Dad's example of enjoying my friends, keeping in touch, getting together when I'm back in the Silver Valley or in Oregon. I think when people golfed or bowled or sat at the bar or sat in our backyard or worked or did just about anything with Dad, they came away smiling, laughing, listened to, feeling good. More and more, I think this way of being with people, whether at church, in a taproom, over coffee, with family, or when buying a bag of dog food at PetSmart is what matters the most. It's good cheer. Dad was full of good cheer and I try to follow his example.

2.  Today, June 1, was also a day of remembering Christy and Everett's dog Shelby, whose life came to an end this afternoon. She, too, died of liver cancer. My sometimes shaky memory tells me that Christy and Everett took Shelby in late in the summer of 2004, about the same time the Deke and I brought Maggie into our home. Whenever it was, I remember visiting Christy and Everett at Martin Creek when Shelby was a puppy and she was the most exuberant, hyperactive dog I'd ever been with. It's funny now, the way Shelby jumped on me and Mom, knocking stuff over, springing from one piece of furniture to another, but at the time (if I remember correctly), it scared me because the Deke called me at Martin Creek during my visit to say she'd brought Maggie into our home in Eugene and I dreaded having a dog if ours was as rambunctious as Shelby. Maggie wasn't that rambunctious and Shelby mellowed before too long and grew into a sweet, loving, loyal companion, not only for Christy and Everett, but for her "sister", Annie. It's an almost unbearably sad day, made bearable by the sweet relief of great memories and knowing that living with Christy and Everett, Shelby had the best life a dog could have: she got constant attention, wonderful companionship, lots of exercise, many unforgettable trips, and the best day to day care imaginable.  We'll all terribly miss Shelby.

3. It was a good day for taking care of some household business, getting some laundry done, and going to the Old Line Bistro with the Deke for some happy hour food and a nice flight of Victory beers -- with the song "All I Do is Win" going through my head. It's the song Danielle and I have decided should accompany the drinking of all Victory beers.

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