Daily Update: Dad(s) – Part 3
I told you this was going to be long, didn’t I? Father’s day this year has given me a lot to think about. Sorry if all of these posts are emotional, but it was all part of my growing up.
My grandfather came from Poland as a little boy. His father was Mike Adamski. During WWI (yes, one not two) the Poles were looked down upon in this country and Adamski Grocery was vandalized multiple times. Mike changed his last name to Adams and there were no more problems. Amazing how people didn’t realize it was still Mike that owned the place.
Grandpa did his time in WWII in the Navy. One of the jobs he described to me was going around after a brutal sea battle and taking a hook to fish out the dead bodies.
Once out of the Navy he married my Grandma. She’d been recently divorced from a man I never met. My Grandpa adopted my mom and raised her as his own. Never once did he even think she wasn’t. My mom called him dad until the day he died. I called him Grandpa until the day he died. He was a Pollack and my mom gave him a hard time for many years about that even when she married a Pollack.
Grandpa retired from the post office. He worked as a mail carrier for many years, then went on to be a mail handler. My Grandma worked at Honeywell and they both retired around the same time. Their plan was to move to McGregor to be around their grandkids as much as possible during their retirement and watch us grow up.
Well, if you read the past two posts, things fell apart with my mom and Loren and Jon and I moved off to live with my dad about a year or two after Grandma and Grandpa moved up.
Grandpa was the most patient person with Jon and I. He taught us how to fish and didn’t care if we made mistakes, dumped the bait bucket, lost lures. It didn’t matter what we did or what we caught as long as we were there with him. He had a pontoon that we would load up and watch fireworks on the Fourth of July from the lake and we’d BBQ and fish from the boat until late into the evening.
He’d give us jars and encourage us to catch fireflies. He would take us outside to walk the dogs on Christmas eve and we’d always miss when Santa would arrive and bring all the presents.
We lost Grandma only a few years into their retirement. She’d smoked and drank nearly her entire life until she started having heart trouble. Then she quit both cold turkey except for one beer a day per doctor’s orders. Where Grandma lacked height (around 4’6) Grandpa was huge! Around 6’6’ or 6’7’ and he weighed in around 350 pounds. When he lost her, it was as if he’d lost everything including the will to live. He carried on for many years, though. We only lost him a few years ago.
My mom’s husband, George, did everything for my Grandpa. I mean everything. He’d go over and they’d talk for hours, joke, laugh. I think it’s because of George that my Grandpa hung on for so long, but I’ll talk about George tomorrow.
Grandpa always called me ‘Pal’. I think he also called Jon, Pal when we’d call because he’d never know which one of us he was talking to. He and Jon would talk endless about sports. I wasn’t big into sports so I always found a way to talk about them with him because I knew he was so passionate about them. Grandpa would spend all day watching any sport that was on once Grandma passed away. It was his way to while away the hours as he waited, and waited, and complained, and waited.
Even without teeth he loved his steak. And ham, and all the meats he wasn’t supposed to eat but couldn’t find a way to avoid them unless my mom cooked for him and sent him heals he’d have to heat himself. During the winter my mom wouldn’t drive the ‘Floe’ road to go see him because the road was mostly ice so George would go out once a day just to check up on him, step on his oxygen hose, and help with anything he needed.
Until the day he found Grandpa on the floor in the bathroom. He’d had a major stroke, his eyes had gone white. Over the past few months he’d lost a lot of weight to the point of being gaunt. He faded quickly.
I flew home to see him. I went with my mom to the hospital room. The nurse tried to rouse him, but he wouldn’t wake up. I stood there, holding his hand, looking at the shadow of the man I’d known. A man that loved to hunt and fish, and just look at nature because it was there. His breathing labored, his pulse erratic. The nurse said he’d been awake and somewhat coherent that morning because she told him I was on my way to see him.
He sat up. He took a deep breath and looked me right in the eye. His eyes were white. Not gray, not colored in any way. They were white. His face relaxed when he was me and he laid back down and let that deep breath out.
I thought for sure that was it, but he started breathing again, slowly, but steady. His pulse still fluctuated up and down. My mom and I left after that. The nurse said he’d been like that the past couple of days and she’d call if anything happened.
Ma and I went to have a beer after that. Before she took a drink she pointed skyward and said, “Ma, it’s time to come and get dad.” We toasted to Grandpa and talked about other things to get our minds off of the events of the day.
The phone int he bar rang. The bartender looked at my mom and said. “It’s George.” The nurse had called to say that my grandpa had passed away about an hour after we left. My mom looked at the clock. It took us 40 minutes to get to the bar. 20 minutes we’d been there before the call. Had Grandma heard? I got a chill.
We cried, we signed, we were happy he was finally resting. I stayed home until after the funeral. He was buried with my Grandma. He received a 21 gun salute as his funeral for his service in the Navy. I still have one of those shells. George and I laid the headstone the following day.
My Grandpa loved ducks. Had pictures of them all over his house. When you walked in there was a painting of his old dog Duke, and a clock with ducks on it. It’s because of my grandpa that I’ll do that daily duck post. I know I joke about it, but it will happen 🙂