By ice rivers
Yesterday was my father's 93rd birthday.
Of course, he wasn't around to enjoy it; that is if you consider these mortal coils by which we're bound a condition to celebrate rather than tolerate.
Pretty sure he's in a better place and celebrating in the way they celebrate in better places.
He shuffled off four years ago. He was sick and tired of being sick and tired. He worked his ass of to gain release from the skilled nursing facility/rehabilitation center that wouldn't let him out until he proved that he could walk.
He proved it. They let him out. Three days later, he woke early went to the bathroom, told my mother "Today's the day. I feel great" While in the bathroom, he collapsed and shuffled off.
It became clear that all the work that he did to get out was motivated by his desire to die at home which he pulled off.
I talked to him the day before. His last words to me were "keep busy".
He had a top hat.
Fifteen years before all of this, when all of this was more than any of us could have imagined, he bought the tombstones for him and my mother. He took a picture of those tombstones, engraved with every thing but the dates. He proudly brought the pictures over to my house one day.
This was the first time I ever thought he could die.
"At my funeral, wear my top hat, will ya?", he asked.
I said I would.
Just before we put him into the ground, just after we launched the balloons, I put his top hat on on top of his urn and snapped. So long, Vin.
He was a firefighter, a captain.
He was a Veteran of Foreign War... WW2...the Phillipines.
He decided he wanted to be cremated.
He knew a lot about fire.
We picked out the urn that we thought he would have liked. Not real expensive...black and gold. We all got to carry the urn around at the funeral. We took out last picture with him. No relative of mine had ever been cremated before unless you count my Uncle Sam who drank a couple of pints of bourbon every day of his life and when he was cremated, they couldn't put out the fire.
That last part about Uncle Sam was a joke.
Let's get back to my father.
For the preceeding decades, I called him Vin.
We all did.
He could have been Captain or Dad or Pop or Daddy or Father.
Captain was way to formal.
Pop was a Coke.
Father sounded a little too Catholic.
Daddy was for infants.
Why not Dad?
All of my buddies had a Dad. Their Dad did this and their Dad did that. My Dad was so much braver, so much funnier, so much smarter, so much more willing to get out in the backyard and throw the football around. My Dad was something other than what I perceived everybody elses Dad to be.
He was someone else. Everybody had a Dad.
I had a Vin.
His middle name was Vincent.
Yesterday was his birthday.