Monday, August 15, 2011

August 15th 1999

For many of my facebook friends, this note will look familiar. But I feel the need to repost this in honor of my father. I wanted to share this with my new blog friends as well.

Today brings back a combination of fond and sad memories. I think back to the evening of August 13th of 1999. It was Friday the 13th. I was living in Park City KS. and my girlfriend at the time, Lisa, lived about 3 miles away from my parents who lived in Mulvane KS.

That night, Lisa and I had my parents over to her house for grilled steak, baked potatoes, salad, homemade pie etc. We all had a wonderful time and my pop stuffed himself so full that he could hardly move. He ate one big steak and half of another one. Now these weren't little steaks. These things weighed in at about 22 oz. so to put away one and a half of them was a feat in itself. We all sat around and talked for a couple of hours and then mom and pop went home. After they left, Lisa and I cleaned up the dishes and put the food away. While we were putting the food away we ran out of aluminm foil. With no foil we just kept the leftover steak on the plate and covered it with saran wrap, put it in the fridge and went to bed.

I don't really remember much about Saturday. It's funny that I can remember every detail about that dinner Friday night. I remember the look on my pops face and just how funny he was because he had stuffed himself so much. He was joking around, commenting on how great the dinner was, telling funny stories about his childhood and grumbleing that he had to undo his pants just to be comfortable.

But Saturday doesn't hold any solid memories at all. It was pretty much like most Saturdays; Breakfast, watching cartoons with the kids, some shopping, mowing the yard and lounging around but nothing jumps out at me like Friday and Sunday.

The next day, Sunday, August 15th, Lisa and I got up early, got the kids around and decided to take the kids swimming in Derby. Her sister had an apartment with a pool  so we spent most of the day there playing in the water. We packed a picnic basket and ate lunch by the pool. We finally left around 3:30pm. It was one of the hottest days of the year. It topped out at about 100 degrees but with the humidity the heat index was about 110.

We went by Lisa's house first so that she could get some clothes to take over to my house. While we were there, I called my parents house to talk to my pop. Mom answered and I asked if dad was there. She mentioned that he had just come in from mowing. They lived out in the country and had about 2 acres that needed mowed. They had a riding mower but with the heat index so high it was not the best time to mow. Mom called for him and I could here him in the background say "tell him I'll call him after I get out of the shower". She replied "you tell him. Here". Pop got on the phone and said "let me call you back. I'm hot, sweaty and dirty". I told him that we were going to my house and to call me there or I would give him a call when we got home and hung up.

We packed up and headed home. When we got there Lisa hopped in the shower and I started to get the bath ready for Chance. We were there for maybe 5 minutes when the phone rang. I noticed on caller I.D. that it was my parents. I answered the phone and said "well pop, did you get all the dirt off?" But it wasn't him. It was my mom and she was crying. I said "mom, whats wrong?. She said "Roy, You need to come down here right now".  She told me that my dad had fallen and that I needed to get there right away. I asked if he was o.k. and she said she didn't know. I asked if he could talk and she said no. She said he was unconscience. I asked if he was breathing and she said "not on his own". She informed me that the paramedics were working on him but that there wasn't any response. By this time I was in a panic and questions flooded my mind. She then told me that he didn't fall  but had collapsed in the bathroom. I ran through the house yelling for Lisa and told her what happened and that we needed to go now. I called my ex (who lived a couple blocks away) and told her what happened and that I needed to drop Chance off. I know that we had her kids but for the life of me I can't remember how they got to her ex. I think he met us on the way. I know that we made a 30 min. trip in about 15 minutes.

When we got to my parents house the driveway was filled with rescue vehicles so I came up through the back acre. Everyone was outside. My sister, niece, nephews, neighbors, etc. I looked throught the front window and they were still working on my dad. They were getting him loaded onto the gurney to take him to the hospital. They were still trying but I could tell that he was gone.

We all followed the ambulance to the hospital. On the way I was calling everyone else to let them know what was going on and that we were on the way to the hospital.  We got to the hospital and after a short wait the ER doctor came in and at about 6:30pm we were informed that my pop had died. He was 75. They said that they didn't know for sure what happened but they think he either had a heart attack or an aneurysm. Whatever it was, he died instantly.

We all went back to my parents house and as I walked in I realized that this was no longer their house but my mom's house. His pipe smoke still lingered in the air, his slippers by the chair. Everything around me suggested that he should walk in the door, that he was still there, but the stark reality was that he was dead. Just a few short hours ago, he walked in the door from mowing the lawn. Now he was gone. I went into the bathroom and there on the wall was a hole that was created when he fell. Sitting down and talking to my mother I realized that I had talked to my pop about a minute before he died. He told me that he would call me back, went into the bathroom and died.

Still numb from the nights events and still trying to wrap my mind around what had happened we left and went to Lisa's house. On the drive I just operated on auto pilot. I was in shock. It still didn't seem real. I couldn't cry. Even when they told us that he was gone tears didn't come. I felt bad because I hadn't cried yet but for some reason they didn't come.

When we got to Lisa's house we just sat and talked for a while. Mostly just talking about what had happened over and over again trying to make sense of it all. I was angry that he had died, wondering why him, etc. I wasn't mad at him...just mad that it was him. Was there anything that I could have done? I was 3 miles away from him when I talked to him. Was there anything in his voice that I should have noticed? As we were backing out of the driveway, my dad was dying. Even as I sit typing this it still seems unreal.

Anyway, I got up and went to the kitchen to get me a drink. When I opened the refrigerator I grabbed the pitcher of iced tea. I scanned the fridge and as I did it hit me. There, on the bottome shelf, was his leftover steak. Just two short days ago he was sitting with me in this room eating dinner, laughing, joking, and groaning from over-eating. That steak was the straw. I picked it up off the shelf, collapsed to the ground and cried. I cried for the loss of the man who taught me to be a man.

Three days later we laid my pop to rest. I sat beside his casket at the funeral home, and even though it may not be the manliest thing, I held his hand and cried. For about an hour I sat beside him and through tears I let my pop know that he was the best father that a person could ever have. At the cemetary, before lowering him into the ground, I kissed the top of his casket, kissing by pop goodbye.

It has been 12 years since my pop died and there is not a day that goes by that I don't think about him. I wish that he was able to live long enough to meet Julie and the girls. Through pictures and stories my wife and daughters have learned who their father-in-law and grandpa was.

He was a great husband, father, grandfather and most of all....mentor and friend.

I love you pop and I miss you very much.

Dedicated to my father
Loren R. Wilkinson
Born 9-29-23
Died 8-15-99

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