Daily Update: Dad(s) – Part 4
George. My mom still has his last name. He was husband #4. She was wife #4. He had 6 daughters. Three from his second wife. Three from his third wife. His nickname was asshole. Some days it was literal, others it was more ironic.
I met George when I was 13. He was an interesting character. He lived in an apartment under Pier 65. Not sure why the bar was called that, but that’s what it was called. My mom, recently divorced, broke, and with no where to go, moved in with George and Jon and I came along.
When I say broke, I’m not kidding. George was in the same condition being recently divorced from the mother of one of Jon’s ex-girlfriends (I think they still talk). As far as I know his first three kids barely knew he was alive and certainly never knew when he was dead. The second three, two of them really didn’t care, the third didn’t until much later in life when she realized that much of what he mom said about his was fabrication and lies.
My mom worked at the Pier and George was a handy man there. He built brick walls, fixed things, built a massive deck. He also drove a big yellow rig called Old Yeller. He would pick up a load now and again and haul it all over. My mom stayed home with the boys. Until my dad called and Jon and I moved out.
That was a tough day for my mom. George was a great guy though. I was excited to move and because of my experience with Loren, I wasn’t ready to trust another step-dad even though he and my mom weren’t married yet.
Once Jon and I were out of the house he and my mom drove truck all over the country. They would pick up something here, drop it off there, pick up something else. They were on the go a lot. George was making good money and loved to pay for everything in cash.
Sadly that also included child support for the woman that lived in his house with his three kids. She didn’t like to see him happy and hated my mom for making him happy. She sued him for back child support and because he’d always paid cash, lost everything and then some. That included Old Yeller.
That might have slowed him down a little, but George and my mom (both not wanting to get married for a fourth time) bought a bar together. The Cajun Queen named for my mom who had loved New Orleans. They had big plans to open it as a bar/restaurant. The bar part happened and that’s pretty much where they stopped. Times were slow and to make extra money George would take on any jobs that he could. He did construction, moved houses, built houses, laid concrete, pretty much any odd job he could manage to keep money coming in so the bar could stay open. He never got to drive truck again, but that didn’t seem to bother him.
Jon and I called him every father’s day. He wasn’t my step-dad in that I didn’t know him. He would always pass the phone straight to my mom when I called. We didn’t have a lot in common. But I still called to wish him a happy father’s day. It wasn’t until much later that my mom told me how much that meant to him. His own kids that lived in the same city never sent him cards, called, nothing. Except one, as I mentioned, later in her life.
One of my fondest memories of George is he and I taking my favorite daughter fishing. I think she was 5 or 6 at the time. Such a peaceful day. He tried to be patient with her, but when he got frustrated (I didn’t know this) he would tell me, “Jay, can you help her?”. At no time did he seem frustrated and upset. He even joked about it later at the bar how such a little girl had her daddy wrapped around his finger.
George had been diagnosed with cancer shortly before my grandpa passed away. He had gotten his lung removed, but said he would be back for chemo, and never went. When my grandpa passed away, he said he’d made a promise to grandpa to get that chemo he’d been putting off. After the funeral I went to George and gave him a hug. The first hug I think I ever gave him. I thanked him for everything he’d done for my grandpa over the years and for always being there for my mom. My mom later told me, “He hugged you. He never hugs anyone!”
George went back to the Mayo Clinic several times. They had planned to do a scan and see what type of treatment they could start for him. Sadly the cancer had gotten nearly everywhere. It was in such an advanced stage that the best they could do was give him medication for the pain because when the cancer is as bad as he had it, organs start to shut down in the most painful manner possible.
You’d never know it. I talked to him several times over the phone. Toward the end he couldn’t remember day to day who’d called. I’d get updates from my mom and she was mentally and physical worn down at this point. Just like with my dad, the waiting was the hardest part.
George, who also had served in the military, got a 21 gun salute at his service. I have one of those bullets as well. He and my grandpa were two peas in a pod. Two loud-mouthed Pollacks that didn’t give a damn what anyone else thought and as much as those two “bickered like old ladies” as my mom used to say, they got along better than any two people I knew.
Losing George in such a short time after my Grandfather was incredible painful. I wish I could have said words at his funeral, but my throat locks up and I can barely breathe when I get emotional. I was barely able to speak at my father’s service and wasn’t able to finish what I wanted to say. I was, however, able to stand on the stage while a good friend of my mom and George, Danny, gave a wonderful Eulogy. I was amazed at just how many people turned out. It was standing room only. You would have thought a celebrity from McGregor had died. You would have been right.