The Passing of My Father...
May 20th, 2012
By Frank Andrew Waszut
We all have traumatizing events in our lives. They are an inevitability and a price that we pay for living. Suffering is one of the the only constants in life that one can expect no matter your percieved relation to it. Sooner or later something is going to hit close to home with irreperable effects for which there is no answer. There is no reset button. No redos. No mulligans. People suffer through severely traumatic events everyday and for those lucky enough to haven't, YET, they seem to be more of a matter of "if" than "when". I can't really blame them. That's the thing about trauma. There is no understanding it until your inevitable meeting with it. It's one of those lessons that you can only experience the hard way.
Of all the trauma one can experience the hardest has to be losing a parent that you were very close to. That's now unfortunately the difference between Tucker Max, the originator and in a alot of ways a mentor in the fratire genre of writing I employ my craft in, and myself. From reading my mentor's work and following in his footsteps I have in alot of ways found myself. I have overcome my fear of rejection and learned to have fun with life. However life has a habit of giving you gut check. Sometimes it's one so brutal you just want to stay down for the count.
I greatly misunderstood my father. I misunderstanding that was greatly intensified after I decided to pursue writing. Alot of this was due to the fact that I chose to stick true to that fratire style and tell the truth about happenings in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. The fact that I chose to write out of anger had further intensified it. A lot of this anger stemmed from how my my career as a Mixed Martial Artist was cut short after my fight with Johnny Buck. I had a dream that turned out to be not what I expected on top of getting a raw deal. It hurt. The difference between myself and most people is that when I get hurt I don't just take it. I want to strike back with the amount of force I was struck with ten fold. Hurt them more than they hurt me. It's the mentality that I carried into prize fighting and furthermore into writing. I felt I could do with Tucker Max, what Denis Leary did with Bill Hick's. A different flavor of the same brand of humor.
We have all heard the saying, "the pen is mightier than the sword". King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans last stand at the Battle Of Thermopylae was one of the most bad ass feats in the history of humanity but no one would have even heard about it if it wasn't for Herodotus's writing of the battle based on empirical evidence. Writing can sway governments, start revolutions, lead to leaps in human scientific evolution, link loved ones from thousands of miles away, and allow us into the minds of history's greatest figures. It may very well be the one of the only ways of immortalizing ourselves. Afterall it is all about putting what makes us human on paper. Whether you call it a soul, conciousness, or merely the result chemical and electrical processes. It's all about communicating our humanity in its all personified possibilities.
It can cause much suffering too if not done with atleast some semblance of compassion. Now there is a huge difference between compassion and appeasement. Compassion is humanity's, and in reality all sentient beings', only true currency where as appeasement is the attempt at compassion based in negative aspects of humanity whether it be greed or fear to which the only inevitable conclusions are jealousy, prejudice, ignorance, violence, and suffering. In extreme cases war. Any precursor to suffering will inevitably lead to suffering unless compassion is allowed to intervene.
That subject was the root cause of many of my father and I's debates even though I didn't realize it at the time. I wanted to be uncomprimising in stories about the cage fights, drunken debauchery, sexual encounters, street fights, and my many other adventures. Honestly, if Tucker Max had never gotten into writing I wouldn't have followed suit even though my dad told me when I was much younger that I should pursue it. The realization that I could write about stories from my life was definitely an epiphany even though I think even that word doesn't do it justice. It felt like a calling. A calling that, unlike fighting, I could totally be myself. However, myself happened to be a narcissistic ginger with affinities for alcohol and chasing skirts not mention not shying away from physical altercations. I mean my idols were Archer (yes a cartoon character voiced by H. Jon Benjamin), Tucker Max, and the Dalai Lama. I wanted to be a raging dickhead with a Buddhist like of optimism. I honestly thought that by going into explicit detail, sometimes even outright embarassing detail, about the people I have come across in my life that I was helping them. I probably did.
It did come at a price minus the obvious effect of bringing out haterz in droves. Debates, and at times very heated, with my father. Not to mention my brother and friends. My stories pissed people off. Besides the arguments with my family and friends I got off on how much people lost their minds over me speaking the truth. It's like Oscar Wilde said, "If you tell the truth you better make it funny or they will kill you." My stories certainly made people laugh. Especially the one about throwing up on a booty call's dog. Just like anything in life though such entertainment does come at a price.
My father wanted me to stop writing stories about people and business's in Charleston. I felt at the time that he was doing this to protect me and my family from being hurt financially due to the content of my stories. Not to mention that I was posting them on my blog (just google "I Don't Have ADD, I Have the Whole Alphabet"). Word got around quick. Especially in a town the is as closely intertwined as Charleston. In a lot of ways my stories were taking on a monster of corruption that is the Charleston political scene. Not to mention the fact that I was calling out the Chief of Police was just adding fuel to the fire. I just didn't care. I had one weapon to fight the corruption, not mention have fun at said corrupters expense, in the form of a keyboard. I'd use a pen but they are obsolete now a days as far as writing is concerned.
Even though I felt he was doing this to protect his own I felt there was a fallacy in his methods in the form of appeasement. Even though my father had 26 years of experience with this thing we call life I still felt that I understood it better than him. I felt my methods were superior to his and in my mind nobody was going to tell me otherwise including him.
The week before my father's death me and my brother were getting ready to head out with my parents to a restaurant called Bowen's Island to celebrate Mother's Day. While I won't go into details I'll just say we got into BAD argument and it was about money. You know those one's where you get so pissed off that you start tearing up. That was me and conveniently the tears hit right when we got to the restaurant. I didn't even want to go inside.
When I finally did I was able to keep my cool till we left. On the way back home the argument continued and I ended up getting out of the car on Calhoun Street. I started walking towards the gym and just figured I'd watch some TV on the couch till I calmed down. The fact that I didn't have my car seemed like nothing more than a formaility at that point. I was hell bent on getting drunk and walking all the way back to Mount Pleasant or ending up in some random girls bed. Which ever came first. That's when my phone went off. It was my dad. I insisted I was fine but just like all of our arguments he eventually won out. And people wonder where I get my stubbornness from. I hopped in the car and rode around while of course getting into another argument. It was doing this argument that I had an "Enter the Dragon" moment and found a line that not even I could cross.
Frank: (while on the phone with HotTeacher) "Can you pick me up because I don't want to be around anyone in my family right now."
The response itself wasn't what got to me. It was the look he had on his face. The look you get when you hurt someone care about so deep that you can almost hear the faint hint of their heart fracturing. Not breaking mind you; fracturing. I felt his pain and it made me sick to my stomach. The only person I could hate for doing this to him was myself. I wanted to throw up. He pulled to the side of the street and said I could get out. I declined. Honestly after writing that I nearly teared up. In a way though that killed any urge I had to argue with him ever again. There comes points in time when realize that the price of victory isn't worth cost to obtain it. Yeah I had gotten my point across but the look of emotional pain my dad had on his face will haunt me till the day I die.
We decided to go to Waffle House to get a cup of coffee. Well he had a coffee and I had a diet coke. As much as what I said hurt my father it actually did bring about a lot of good. I won't go into detail about what was said just because that's something I will not share because that was the first time me and my father truly bonded as not just father and son but as best friends like my father always wanted while I couldnt understand why until then. We just shot the shit and neither of us held back. We became best buds. It was great and is the only thing that helps me forgive myself for what I said to him earlier.
A week later my birthday came around. I had to that afternoon and once I got off around 8 I headed over to this restaurant called Fuel. They have one of my all time favorite meals there in the form of the Chorizo Burger. If you haven't had then just rest assured that it is worth losing your kidney and waking up in a motel bathroom full of ice. Needless to say I made my way to Fuel post haste. After I parked I started walking up Rutledge Avenue when I saw Junior and his girlfriend/my soon to be sister-in-law walking up to Fuel from across the street. I attempted to sneak up on him just to bust his balls. The only problem was that there wasn't much cover and a good 50 yards between us. Needless to say I was noticed faster than Waldo hanging out in Harlem. We hugged and they told me Happy Birthday as we walked up to the restaurant where my mom and dad were parking. My dad had already set up a reservation with the owner whom is a family friend or as my dad called him, "another son".
As we walked up I saw my mom and hugged her while my dad chilled in the Miati he just bought my mom for a second. He always liked just laying back and chilling for second. It always seemed like he needed a second to lay back and think. The dinner was great and not just because the chorizo burger was awesome or that the Plantain Cake nearly knocked me for a loop of pleasure. I didn't even need to get laid after that. It was that good. On top of that this was the first time that I felt like I could totally be myself around my family. I actually bought them shots of Fireball Whiskey which is something i had never done before, much to the surprise of my mom. After some pursuasion I finally talked them to consuming the Big Red flavored whiskey that has become all the rage in the Charleston drinking scene. My dad took it like a G while my mom surpisingly didnt gag. She actually liked it. I had finally come full circle with my parents, i.e. I was actually drinking with them in my usual debaucherous style.
After we saddled up the tab, which my dad insisted on me not helping with like he always did, we headed outside so that my parents could give me the gifts they got me. My mom put them in this rainbow colored bag with ribbons to match per her artistic style. She is a Nail Artist after all (calling her a cosmotologist doesnt do what she does with French Tips and cuticles just. She paints Charlie Brown cartoons on people's nails. YEA, shes that good). I open up the bag and see the gifts they got me; A Spalding NBA outdoor/indoor basketball so i can shoot hoops (my moment of zen) and an audio jack so that I can blast straight thug G-ing on my car stereo (my other moment of zen) with Rhapsody instead of CD's. YEA, it has taken me this long to make the leap. Honestly these are the two best bday gifts I ever recieved. Not a knock on my parents by any means as they have always put thought behind anything they have done for me but they nailed it on the head with these ones. It's more the person whom you are giving the gifts to than how much money goes into the gifts. After all money is just numbers and fancy paper with dead presidents and Benjamin Franklin that are only worth a shit because the overwhelming majority of human consciousness deems it to be so while choosing to be slaves to it. To my dad it was merely one of many tools to finding happiness than the key to happiness. That was his gift. To use what subconsciously makes most of us slaves as a means of obtaining and upholding his individual liberty. A liberty which exercised in the form of protecting his own.
After hugging and kissing my dad I decided to head down to DiveBar in order to continue the drunken debauchery I had started for the evening. Also, I was suppose to meet up with HotVampire so I decided to get there early to get in some birthday before she dragged me off to where only the Cosmic Jewish Zombie knows where. Usually it would be for depraved sex acts but this is time of the month when her tide came in.
After I arrived at DiveBar I took a seat, ordered a drink from RedskinsFan and started sipping on my vodka and club when FratPolo came up asking me if I wanted to go to Mad River (which is bar that use to be a church which should tell you all you need to know about Charleston) to, "Hit on, babes". A little bit of advice guys. Referring to woman as "babes" while funny at times is a one way ticket to going home, ALONE, with your right hand at the end of the night. I told him that I had a couple girls coming since HotVampire told me that one of her friends was coming. The difference between her and most i have met in my life is she ACTUALLY had hot friends to hang out with. This definitely wasn't an exception as HotVampire tapped my shoulder from behind making me turn around to take notice. Her friend wasn't just hot. She was Johnny Blaze trying to go Supernova. She had long brown hair, perky C-cup breasts, tight body, long legs, and a gravity defying ass. If I hadn't already been hooking up with HotVampire and cared for her like I do then I would have blindly gone spitting game at both of them. Needless to say everyone in DiveBar's jaws dropped to the floor faster than one of Anderson Silva's victims. That's when you know you have some game. The funny part is that I don't play games or as Tucker Max so eloquently put it, "The best game is no game".
Nothing of note happened for the rest of the night besides being mesmerized, along with half of Club Light (a dance club), by HotVampire and her friends using the hips while shaking their money makers like they were chasing paper. There was one sketch ball trying to spit game at them but HotVampire seemed to be more bothered by it than I was. Guys, if you see me with a girl and you want to spit game at her friends its not going to bother me if you hook up with them or not. That is if your game is good enough to actually hook up with them.
The following afternoon I woke up with one of those hangovers that wasn't so much a massive headache as it was the fact that I felt as though I had the cognitive ability of a zombie. I figured sweating out all the alcohol from the night before could be accomplished by shooting some hoops and getting a workout in the gym. I hopped in my car and decided to try out the audio jack on my droid. I was instantly in love as Lloyd Banks's "Any Girl" came blasting through the speakers of my '92 Honda Accord.
I pulled up to the court and shot some hips with the accuracy of Ray Charles in his prime except for anything beyond 3 point range. Those I can sink pretty regularly but once i get inside of that range it all goes to hell. After about thrity minutes I had a pretty good sweat going and decided to finish my workout off. If you can't tell by now I'm not the biggest fan of running for cardio sake since I get bored very easily. You can only gawk at College of Charleston co-eds sun bathing in bikini's while running by Francis Marion Square before it loses it's appeal. Afterwards I got a quit workout in the gym that I work at before heading home to chill out before I headed out for some more drunken debauchery.
Thats when Diva started texting me again. We were going over our previous sexual encounter which was making her reply with LOLs and "oh hush". Do I even need to explain what her opinion on that encounter was. She told me to come over and I would once I was done watching X-Men: First Class on HBO. Awesome movie by the way and yes it was due to Kevin Bacon along with producers finally having the balls with the franchise to push the envelope and get an R-Rating. About half way through my parents arrived home and I watched the rest of the movie with my dad. He was actually pretty interested in it which was weird since my dad usually didn't take such a liking to any of the movies that I watched much less one based on a comic book. There he was though, watching it as intently as I was. Almost like he finally understood why I get engrossed in movies just like this. He actually liked it. I feel like I hit a milestone with him and he was finally starting to understand me.
After the movie was over I told them that I was going over to a friend’s house and by then my parents had seen enough of my skirt chasing to know what I meant. That’s what differentiated my relationship with my parents than from what I udually notice in such relationship.; honesty. My parents know that I’m not the celibate type. They know that I like to drink and have casual sex with different women. They may not always agree with it but they accept it and their love for me didn’t change. I kissed my mom goodbye, told her I loved her, then kissed my dad on the cheek and told him that I loved him too. Little did I know that this would be the last time I would tell him that while he was alive again.
After taking forever at the Circle K to buy a 4 Pack of Miller High Life because for some they have their computer system set up to where they can’t do inventory and get customers checked out at the same time I was stuck in line with people who looked like the would be prime contestants for the biggest loser. One guy was so fat that I wanted to smack the bag of M&Ms out of his hand just to help him. After the cashier had a Madea moment and flipped out because my Banana Cream flavored Muscle Milk wouldn’t scan I finally got my beer while high tailing it out of there. Not that I was scared or anything, I just Diva waitinbg on me, ready and willing.
After making one more Pit Stop at Wendy’s since I was starving (hence why I was trying to buy a Muscle Milk and couldn’t since Circle K sucks) I pulled up to Diva’s apartment. I knocked on her door and her little brother answered. I hadn’t seen him since I took him to get some Taco Bell and fell victim to the North Charleston Department’s racial profiling policy (that story is coming soon). Diva’s brother eventually went to his room to pass out leaving us to watch some TV. She had this movie on called Death at a Funeral. You might have seen it. It has Martin Lawrence and Chris Rock whom both play brothers whom are writers (trust me that is just the beginning of the spooky parallels of this story) whom are tending to the funeral of their recently deceased father (not much of a spoiler but the Universe was giving me a red flag on that one). In all reality the movie made next to no sense but I realize now it would be only te beginning of the signs I would start to see.
After that we watched this movie called Pot Zombies. Before I say anything I will say that I am a zombie believer (if you are a Christian then so are you) and I LOVE anything zombie related. So does Diva. With that said getting through this movie was more an exercise in masochistic endurance than actual enjoyment. The whole plot involved red necks and metal heads smoking radiation infused marijuana and turning into zombies with glowing green eyes. The special effects were so bad the George Romero and George Lucas would have hugged each other while jumping into a wood chipper at the sight of them. Oh and the plot? Just imagine if Quentin Tarantino decided to do a zombie film with the same pacing as Pulp Fiction while smoking meth and having a stroke (I know he technically did because of Grindhouse but that was directed by Robert Rodriguez). I don’t even think that gives you a picture of how god awful this movie is. It makes Legally Blonde look Oscar worthy by comparison.
After we made it through that the cinematic equivalent of bashing your brain stem with a hammer me and Diva started foolling around. Anyone that has read my stories can draw the inevitable conclusion on that (except for that one St. Patty’s day when that girl’s (BirthMarK) boyfriend walked down stairs on us). The only thing noteworthy is that I think I upped my game when it comes to cunninglus. I have to say, I think I brought my A Game. You are welcome by the way. Like I said, not story worthy. I had no idea what was in store for after kissing her goodnite and walking to my car. Little did I know what fate had in store for me as I pulled into the driveway, got ouf the car after tangling with the stereo cord on my phone, walked past my dad’s 66’ Cadillac Fleetwood, and walking into the house. I didn’t realize that wheels had already been set in motion decades ago and the fecal tsunami of fate was about to hit.
I groggily awaken to the sound of………….
Junior: FRANK!!! WAKE UP!!! DAD IS HAVING A HEART ATTACK!!
I thought he was joking at first and then I saw the look on his face which told me otherwise…
As I made my way to the stairs as I see the paramedics huddled around someone…
I walk in…
There’s my dad laying motionless besides the jolts from chest compression there were performing on him. Here was a man that I respected, loved, argued with, gotten really close to especially in the past few years, and had honestly been my best friend for longer than I realized just laying there. Helpless no matter how hard the paramedics were trying, Just slipping away. No matter how hard anyone pulled back.
The neighbors were all outside with a look of concern. They were as worried as we were. The paramedics were trying to keep a straight face but I could see the desperation in their eyes. A reality I wasn’r ready to give into yet because I knew how tough my dad was. I knew if anyone could fight there way out of this and keep their grasp on life it was my father. This is the same guy that when he was 7 got dragged into an abandoned apartment building by 5 older black kids who decided to piss in a coke bottle and make him drink it. He responded by breaking the coke bottle and stabbed three of the kids in the leg which he followed by hauling ass down 5 flights of stairs while maybe touching three of the steps. As he ran back to his house he ran by an older black guy man on his porch in a rocking chair whom upon seeing my dad sprint by let out, "The white boy run fast." The nickname stuck like it was some sort of Native American name or something.
The other though I had going through my head was, "Why in the hell was he naked." As far as I knew stripping a man naked that was undergoing cardiac arrest wasn't part of an EMS protocol then I knew of. That's when someone asked my mom what happened as she was visibly shaking with fear.
Mom: (saying it as discreetly as possible while trembling): "We were having sex, he told me he loved me, and then it happened."
There was a slight glimmer of hope once we arrived at East Cooper Hospital which is right around the corner from my house. As my brother and mom were doing there best to keep their composure the nurse came in to inform us that they had found a pulse. I felt a sense of relief as I thought that my father would overcome this just like he overcame everything else he had in his life. We started getting ready to head over to MUSC as the nurse told us that they need to get him there to install a catheter.
10 minutes later...
The nurse comes back to ask us to come to the operating room. I'm confused as to why they would want us to come back while the doctors were still trying to revive my dad. As we walk in I see a machine attached to my father performing chest compression as I look off the far side of the room to notice another doctor taking off his scrubs. We catch eyes. He instantly knew who I was. The similarities between me and my father are pretty obvious even if I don't have the mustache that he has. That's when his eyes shot to the floor with a visible look of defeat. The inevitability of what was about to happen readily apparent as the other doctor told us that it was, "Starting to look grim."
I walked over to put my hand on my Dad's lifeless body as an attempt to somehow bring him back.
Frank: "Come on dad. Come on dad. COME ON DAD."
I keep trying to will my dad back to life until the nurses and doctors looked at each other inevitabily coming to the same conclusion that I had. He was gone. They announced the time of death. My father had died. My head started racing as the gravity of what just happened began to settle in. This was a man whom was had always been there for me. A man that had always helped to guide me. Had always been there for me no matter what was now gone from this life. This was a day that I fooled myself into thinking would never come or would come at a much older age. Life doesn't go according to such plans though. Much less mine. A fact that it had just sucker punched me with. Not just any sucker punch either. It's one of those blows you don't want to get up from. The type that makes you realize there are worse things than death. The one where you realize that the only choice is to get up and keep moving forward.
I looked around at the doctors who now all had a visible look of defeat along with myself. I look at my mom and my brother. I see the despair growing in their eyes exponentially by the second along with the sadness that is now overcoming my consciousness. It all seems "like a nightmare" as my mom keeps putting it. Unfortunately nightmares you can wake up from. As for now this is our reality. My father laying lifeless on an operating table. Dead.
I walk outside of the room in order to attempt to gather myself. In my fighting career I learned that its ok to be hurt but you still can't show it. That counted for me especially since I am my father's first born child. My dad always made me promise him that if something happened to him that I would take care of my Mom and Junior. When I promised that I figured I'd have another 20 to 30 years before I actually would have to make good on that promise. Apparently life didn't want to make things easy on me. After spending a few minutes squating down while leaned against a wall I started pondering what my next move would be.
That's the thing about having a loved one's life cut tragically short. There is no playbook for it. No rules. No self help guide. No bullshit pearls of wisdom from Dr. Phil. There is no right and wrong for something like this. Honestly the whole concept of right and wrong is just an over complicated method devised by individuals to control people around them to enforce their opinion of "right and wrong". Truly there is only compassion or lack there of. That's what differentiates sentient beings from the universe around them. The connection made with those through a compassionate basis or a basis of suffering. I guess that's what made my next move much clearer. My dad touched alot of people in his life and his passing was going to be hard on a lot of people. The news of it was going to be a heavy blow in itself. I figured my job right then and there was that I had to soften the blow as much as possible to help everyone he was connected to through his life through it. I pulled out my phone and tapped onto my Facebook app. I posted this status:
Frank Andrew Waszut: "RIP Frank Arthur Waszut 7/5/57-5/20/12....I love you dad"
Almost immediately people started responding. I had called HotVampire as we arrived to the hospital but it kept going to her voicemail since she was more than likely busy at work. It's not like she could have planned on my dad having a heart attack. In the state I was in I needed some female affection. There were only two women that I could think of in a time of need like this. Since I couldnt get ahold of HotVampire I next called HotTeacher who called me back almost immediately. I told her everything that happened and she said she would come post haste. Amazingly she was there in 10 minutes flat which, if you know anything about Charleston and how long it takes to get from West Ashley to Mt. Pleasant, meant she was definitely treating the posted speed limits as suggestions. Nevertheless there she was in all her curvy glory.
The thing about HotTeacher and my dad is that they agreed about my destiny. They knew I was capable of great things. Why? I have no idea. They didn't agree about whether she was good for me or not. That's not to say that my father had any ill will towards HotTeacher. They both cared about me as well as cared about each other. My dad just saw all the drama that went on between us and felt that we weren't a good fit. Maybe he was right but like I said me and my father loved to disagree. He just wanted me to be happy just like she did.
Regardless she was there along with my dad's boss, his son, daughter, along with my aunt whom I wasn't exactly on speaking terms with, my soon to be sister in law's parents, and my grandmother. Translation it was a clustefuck of drama during the most traumatizing moment of my life. Honestly I wasn't envious of my dad at this moment. It kind of brought up the question in my mind someone posed to me about losing those that we care about. Who is really suffering? The dead or the ones they leave behind?
My cousin Tara called me and I took the call in the hall adjacent to the operating room where my dad was laying. She gave me helpful advice and words of encouragement to keep my head straight. She also tells me that her and my Aunt Pauline are going to be heading down from to Charleston from Clifton, New Jersey. This is the town where my father and my aunt Pauline grew up. They were inseperable as kids which I learned when they came down to Myrtle Beach to visit a couple of summers prior along with Tara's husband and her kids.
After getting off the phone with Tara I went back to check on everybody to make sure they were ok before I went outside before having one of my numerous breakdowns into sorrow that I would have on this day. However, like i said earlier I did it where no one would see. I had to keep up the appearance of strength. The same reason why Franklin D. Roosevelt would always give speeches while standing even though polio had ravaged his body to the point where he was almost exclusively restricted to a wheel chair. Being weakened is fine but showing weakness is as close as you can get to flirting with sin. Especially for the position that I was now in.
My phone started blasting "Any Girl" by Lloyd Banks which is my general ringtone. I was hoping it would be "Lemonade" by Gucci Mane which is the one I have for HotVampire. I looked at the Caller ID and it was the owner of O'Malley's (IrishFratBar). I have written so many stories that had blasted him and his bar that, honestly, he was the last guy that I think would call at this moment. He pretty much gave me the same cliched words of encouragement that would go and still go on as of this writing. I mean, it is the thought that matters and I do realize that not everyone has the ability to use words like I do but having that ability also means that cliches are WAY more irritating. Its that same issue I had with people trying to give me tips on fighting while I was prize fighting. Everyone wants to be an expert and act like they know all the ins and outs when in all honesty they know nothing.
I went back inside and stayed with my dad till the coroner came. I didn't want to leave my dad alone in a cold sterile environment that is a hospital by himself. His sentience was gone from his body but I was going to make sure his body was still treated with respect. I held his hand that was now just lukewarm. The blood stopped flowing. His eyes weren't completely closed so I closed them for him. I had his necklace on that Junior took off him earlier along with his bracelet and ring which he was now wearing. I never noticed how much Junior's hands looked like my dad's until then as he walked into the room to wait with me and my dad for the coroner.
The tears were hitting pretty hard then. It's like karma had finally caught up to me for all the smack I talked about Nancy Kerrigan for crying after one of Tonya Harding's body guards whacked her in the knee with a crow bar. Finally the coroner came whom was an older portly fellow with glasses and military style hair cut. I could tell from his calm demeanor that this wasn't his first rodeo. I kissed my dad on the forehead followed by Junior doing so. We walked out and thats when it really started to hit me. My mind instantly snapped back to those hurtful words I said to him the week prior along with all the drama and stress my stories had caused him. I was instantly struck with a pain that can only be brought on by guilt.
As my eyes begin to water again me and Junior duck into one of the ER rooms and I come clean about the argument with my dad a week earlier along with why I was writing all my stories in the first place. For all the drama my stories caused my family they were in fact to help my family. I wanted to write a book and make enough money off it so that my family wouldn't have to worry about money ever again. My dad wouldn't have to kill himself working day in and day out (obviously it was too late for that now) and my mom wouldnt have to either along with my brother. That's what seperates me from Tucker Max. I'm very close with my family, he isn't. It's not a knock on him, just an inference from reading all of his work that he has put out.
Junior comforts me which kind of gives you an idea of how traumatic this all was since he was usually one of the first to spout haterade on my stories. He was usually the catlyst for alot of those arguments for my dad since he told my dad EVERYTHING. Me and Junior are polar oppsites in everyway you can imagine. While I'm a ginger that has the physical features of my father (gorilla-like) my brother looks like the perfect result of genetic engineering by the Third Reich. Seriously he has blonde hair, blue eyes, with a physic that would make Michael Phelps give him a sales pitch sponsored by the international Olympic Committee.
We walked out to the parking lot and hopped in my future sister-in-law's BMW X5 along with my mom and grandmother. We rode back to the house while I consoled my mom along with Junior. She was absolutely devastated. My mom and dad had been married for 33 years. It wasnt one of those rocky kind of long term marriages either. The love they had for each other defied logic. Defied reason. Defied anything really. My dad turned down more temptation than South Carolina politicians cave in a town that was voted as having the most attractive people on top of being called a "drinking town with a history problem".
As we got back to the house the reality of the situation started to settle in. Usually on a Sunday I'd walk into the house the sight of my dad working out back in the yard or him in the kitchen shooting the shit with my mom. That or I'd be calling them to see what they were doing. They'd usually be on the way back from Costco. Not anymore. Now we were greeted to the sight of people whose lives were touched by my father. HotTeacher and Junior's girlfriend were cleaning our rooms. My mom's friend was cleaning around other parts of the house. Our dog's (Jack, Gracie, and Roxie) were wagging their tails at the sight of us with joy since they hadn't realized what had just transpired.
An endless flow of people would be stopping by the house throughout the day. My friends. Friends of my mom. Friends of Junior. Friends of my dad. Atleast we weren't alone in this seemingly senseless tragedy. People kept bringing over food which honestly kind of irritated me. My father had just died of a heart attack which we would find out the following day was due to a 100% blockage in two of his arteries and an 85% blockage in his other two. My dad had lost 86lbs since the year prior at the behest of me and my mom so that something like this wouldn't happen but apparently it was too late. It was a ticking time bomb waiting to go off on top of the fact that its hereditary since my grandfather (my dad's father) died the EXACT same way i.e. a heart attack post coital. Throw on top of the fact that I look almost exactly like my father and take a guess what my destiny could be if i don't make some drastic life changes? Yet people were bringing over fried chick. I MEAN REALLY?
I can't blame them too much. I've kind of come to peace with the fact that common sense is not that common and the thought really is what matters even if it isn't really that thought out. On top of that adding to my already amped up stress level was the fact that HotVampire got back to me and told me she was coming over and was going to be on her way back soon. Also add to the fact that AnorexicJesus was riding me up to the Circle K to buy some Ecigs and to meet up with Tank whom I hadn't exactly been on speaking terms with along with the rest of Boze's crew since my falling out with Boze. It felt like the spirit of my dad was ruthlessly mocking me for all my narcissistic debauchery in the past year and a half.
After Tank showed up we had him follow us back to the house where HotVampire was waiting. She decided to wait out front since, like me, she gets shy around people that she doesnt know which there was a shit load of at the house. Shit, there were people at the house I didn't even know. I was starting to see the influence that my dad's life truely had. All the people that he touched. They were coming over in droves. I was also starting to see the affect my dad's life was having on me. I mean you'd think a politician or someone famous in our town died with the amount of people that were coming over.
The only problem was two of these people happened to be HotVampire and HotTeacher. I knew they would inevitably meet at some point. I thought it would be out at a bar. Not at my house with my family around. However as I was outside holding hands with HotVampire as this Baptist preacher was helping to console my mom I saw HotTeacher in the kitchen.
HotTeacher came outside and I did the only thing i could think of at the time because obviously my mind was elsewhere:
Frank: "[HotVampire] this is [HotTeacher], [HotTeacher] this is [HotVampire]"
Amazingly the Ragnarok didn't happen and I was still alive. I mean on one side was HotTeacher who if you were to call a Diva would be putting it lightly, and on the other was HotVampire who keeps a machete next to her bed. Oh yeah I forgot to mention that HotTeacher keeps a .357 Magnum next to her bed. I think this would be the part where Jeff Foxworthy would say, "We're starting to see a pattern here Frank". I attract dominatrixes. What can I say?
On top of that Boze came by. Now I hadn't talked to Boze in awhile and it wasnt exactly for cheery reasons. Like I said we had a falling out which is something that I always bothered my dad because of how close me and Boze were (no homo). The funny thing is when tragedy like this strikes it puts things in perspective. All the things that cause drama that you thought you were SO important honestly don't mean squat in the grand scheme of things. Leave it to my dad to teach me lessons post mortem. Boze and I caught up on things. Honestly, I could feel that he was in pain too. We all were even though i didn't realize how many "all' encompassed.
The funny thing is that you think you know how many people that one has touched in the lifetimes. You think a mere 5 minutes helping someone out is trivial and doesn't have any bearing on the society around them. I was starting to see through the effect of my father's passing that it was quite the contrary. I was starting to realize a lot of people were suffering from this and I didn't have to be strong just for me and my family but for them as well. That's what he would have wanted. It's wierd. I'm not the relgious type. I was born Catholic but could only make it 15 minutes through the Bible before calling bullshit. I wouldn't say so much that I'm atheist as I would say that the classical monotheistic concept of a creator is too static for me. I think the answer, if there is an answer, is WAY more complicated than that. Honestly I reject the whole concept of faith and belief because throughout humanity's history such constructs have led to more suffering than happiness. That's why I like Buddhism since it's a spiritual philosophy that isn't built upon dogma and unsubstantiated claims. Their maybe a higher intelliegience or they may not be. Who knows? I sure as hell don't and honestly neither do you.
My dad always had a good saying, "If you live your life like there is a god then it doesn't matter whether there is or not". I was starting to understand why he said this. Better yet in the film The Big Bounce, Morgan Freeman put it best to Owen Wilson whom would use it later on in the film to explain why it's better to have faith in people, "God is just an imaginary friend for grown ups." That's not to say whether or not there is a god. It's just to say that I think it's a human construct that's the sum of every sentient beings individual consciousness. The existence of God is dependent on us since that construct wouldn't even exist without sentient beings existing to acknowledge it. It's the yin and yang of sentience.
I knew that my father's death couldnt be allowed to be in vain. There was only one way I knew how to get the essence of my father's life across to everyone. So that his legacy would live on. A legacy that would make the Dalai Lama smile. A legacy that would make even a die hard Catholic cheer the fuck up (which he was baptized . One of compassion and discipline for the betterment of his fellow sentient beings that he touched. I knew that my father wouldn't want for people to suffer in a limbo of despair over his death. He would want them to move on and make a positive out of it. To learn from his life how to be more compassionate and forgiving human beings. Since he wasn't around anymore the ball was in my court now. Luckily I would have the tool to do it; my writing. He would also have his audience threw me at his funeral. My father always loved to debate and to get the last word in but now I had to get it in for him.
Until then we actually had to get the funeral planned which amazingly my dad's boss was paying for in full. Over the years they became very close friends and my dad basically helped raised his son and daughter. Shit my dad probably helped to raise half of Charleston. There's a reason why people called him PapaFrank. Now they were going to understand why if they didn't already.
I started working on my dad's eulogy while taking Roxie to the vet for lumps on her between fits of uncontrollable waterworks. The pain I was feeling was so hard to hide but I didn't want to show weakness. My father wouldnt want me to either. It would be blood in the water which is still not a smart idea even if there aren't any sharks in view since the love to come out of nowhere as I learned from my fighting career. I did open up to those close to me at times. Im not claiming that I was calm like Eli Manning in the face of an incoming blitz the whole time but for the most part I kept up the appearance of strength.
On Tuesday we had to go to the funeral home to make the arrangements for the funeral along with my dad's boss and my dad's friend that ran a tree cutting business. The one that was running a tree cutting business took it so hard that you'd think he lost a brother. In all reality he did even though they didn't have any blood relation. They were connected through something even stronger than blood. Conscience and spirit. Blood maybe thicker than water but a connection of consciousness through compassion is stronger than anything. It's the force in the universe that connects and makes us all one. Scientists on the Swiss-French border are using a 17-mile long particle accelerator to collide sub-atomic particles at 99.99999999% the speed of light to create a minature version of the Big Bang that created the universe in order to find this force, this theoretical particle. A particle called the Higgs Boson named after Peter Higgs, the theoretical physicist who theorized it's existence after studying the standard model of particles physics in order to account how particle got mass, i.e. existence.
Scientists thousands of miles away across the Atlantic Ocean are trying to discover it and my dad was using it, without even having heard of it, to impact the lives of people in positive and compassionate ways. AND he was TOW TRUCK DRIVER. Yea, the same job that you see on reality tv that leads to altercations that would make Jerry Springer blush. Yet, there he is manipulating the force (and yes I am about to go George Lucas on this) that binds us all to make us better and, once he passed on to the otherside, using it to bring people together. This would only be the beginning of how spooky things would get.
The actual planning of the funeral was pretty much run of the mill I think (it's not I spend everyday at a funeral establishing the settlement of the estimates with my next of kins). The hardest part seeing my dad's photo that we were going to use in the obituary for the local newspaper in Charleston (The Post and Courier) and picking out his urn since we were going to have him cremated after the funeral. As we walked into the room where they kept the various coffins and urns I saw one (an urn) that caught my eye which I pointed out to my mom. It was solid chrome which, given my dad's love affair with cars, fit him to a T. I think the tears in my mom's eyes dried up for a split second at the sight of it.
The following day was the viewing. I woke up knowing that this day was going to be long and brutal. Not just due to the fact that I was going to spend most of my waking hours standing next to my dad's embalmed body. I mean my dad was already gone but having to see everyone that had been in his life taking it like a car wreck was going to be just rubbing salt into the wound on top of the sight of my mom and Junior having to go through it. But you know what? Salt is pretty fucking good when rimmed on a glass with a margarita, i.e. I could cheer everyone up just like my dad would want me too. If you have ready any of my stories then you know I do have that gift in messed up situations even as messed up as this. Except I couldn't just you know? Be as overboard, if there is such a thing, as usual. Dead baby jokes were definitely off the table.
We arrived at the funeral home around 3:30. I rode there with my mom and Aunt Sandy who had gotten into town earlier in the day. Junior called me on the way and informed me that he had already seen my dad at the home. He didn't elaborate. He didn't have to. We pulled up to the funeral home. There was older gentleman there to greet us. I have to say even though these are usually the people you don't like to meet, due to the circumstances you usually meet them under, they are very respectful in tragic situations like this. He opened up the for us and walked in. I took the lead.
We walked into the room where my father was and there he was. He looked so peaceful and much to my amazement he was smiling. The crazy thing is that when we went through all of his pictures we couldn't find any that he wasn't smiling in. Not one. When I thought about seeing him not smiling was a rarity. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of times when we argued where I said a little too much and that scowl came out in way that would make Dan Henderson blink but it was few and far between as far as the big picture was concerned. I felt his arms. They were as cold and hard as ice. A result of the embalming process.
I comforted my mom and Aunt Sandy as the looked over my dad's body. Not only was my mom close to my dad but so was her siblings. My mom is the oldest child of my grandfather whom (how should I put this?) I get my genetic predispositioned alcohol tolerance from. I mean a portion of it can be attributed to my dad's side since afterall he came from a German family, and the thing to know about Germans is that they basically drink beer just to sober up. We aren't even talking about raised BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) until someone whips out the vodka which was my dad's poison of choice.The difference between me and my dad in regards to my mom's side of the family is that while mr grandfather drank to escape his reality me and my dad drank to enjoy it. We weren't alcoholics (well maybe i've flirted with that line at times). We weren't even lushes. We just enjoyed alcohol and actually could handle our liquor. That's German genetics for ya. The only trait I really got from my mom's side was the Sicilian style temper.
That mixed with my grandfather's said inability to handle his liquor on top of being a narcissist and a control freak led to domestic issues in my mom's household in the form of physical abuse. My mom usually got the brunt of it. Once my dad came into the picture that came to halt as far as my mom being a punching bag was concerned. In alot of ways my dad saved my mom. Shit, he saved her from him in every way as well as my Aunt Sandy. That's why there was a split in my mom's side of the family after the passing my grandfather. All were damaged from him with the only difference being my dad coming into the picture helped my mom and aunt sandy actually find a life of happiness. Honestly my dad was a hero amongst being a proud father and a loyal husband.
That's what was making this so hard. He was such an awesome guy and yet there he was cut down way before he should have been by the same genetic time bomb that doomed his father. I know life's not fair but this was bullshit. I honestly don't why the good die young. It makes no sense. People like my father are in same category compassion wise as Martin Luther King Jr (minus the plagiarism), Ghandi, John Lennon, the Dalai Lama, and that Cosmic Jewish Zombie that everyone talks about (minus the egocentric claims).
I stepped out for a minute, along with Junior, to get a cup of water when one of the other older gentlemen walked up to us whom also apparently knew my father. He told us about how a few years back my dad came drove to Columbia, South Carolina from Charleston to tow his car since it was broken down on I-26. That is just one of hundreds, more than likely thousands (shit, possibly tens of thousands), of stories of my dad's charity. Most religious zealots claim a moral high ground since the spend an hour in church every sunday. My dad lived his life behind the bullshit these hypocrites preach and didn't claim to be better than anyone. He just wanted to help his fellow sentient being. That's just who he was. As me and Junior shit the shit with this guy he told us how he never heard of anyone talk about their father in such a positive light as we did. This surpised me as I was just being honest about my dad.
A little before 6PM one of my old high school buddy's brother, his brother absolutely in love with my stories by the way, stopped by and we shot the shit for a little bit till HotTeacher showed up along with some of my dad's friends from work. This would be the beginning of what would be droves of people showing up for what alot would be paying their last respects to my father. It was insane. While my mom was trying to stay strong as much as possible, I finally understood why you always see widows sitting in a chair next to their husband's casket. One part is the physical toll of having to stand for hours on end conversing about essentially the same tragic thing over and over. Just imagine if the person that you loved most. The one person more important to you than ANYTHING was just ripped out of your life inexplicably without any sense or reason. I guess maybe I am talking about the sentiment of me and my mother at same time albeit in different ways of how we knew my father. Me and my mother have always shared what seems like a sixth sense in regards to emotional and physical pain. And to think, scientists have been trying to call bullshit on quantum entanglement for years (seriously, google "quantum entanglement").
Speaking of the emotional toll (I guess I already touched on that) I could only imagine the thoughts that were going through my mothers mind. For the amount of pain I was feeling atleast I was somewhat capable of keeping my emotions in check through my years of training in martial arts and my recent endeavors in the study of Buddhist philosophy. In layman's terms the fact that life is learned through suffering and I guess the most important lesson of my life was taking place at this very moment. A lesson my father always tried to instill in me in his life but I was too stubborn to listen to until now. Leave it to my father to die just to get a point through my stubborn, Sicilian, Ginger, skull. A lesson that I always confused with weakness. One I confused with appeasement. One that I realize now that I should have known before father's death with my obsession with Samurai's philosphy of Bushido ("Way of the Warrior") and is the inevitable end game of any genuine human being that believes in protecting his own. A lesson I am learning as of writing this now after complating the fact of knowing (a week later after all of this took place) that my dad suffered a miniature heart attack that took place the summer prior to all of this happening yet he never spoke a word to anyone probably because not even he fully understood what was coming but was willing to sacrifice himself for it. That's the way of the warrior. Knowing when to lay down your sword and let go of the struggle. To let go of what we have to in order to truly find happiness no matter what our potential and paradoxally inevtitable destiny is (I don't even know if that's a real phrase but if not I'm officially making it up). To lay down your sword which essentially is the metaphorical instrument we all carry in all ourselves as sentient beings to decipher the struggle that is life.
My father realized that the ultimate goal of life is to make life better for those that he cared about. My father cared for alot of people. My father cared for anyone that didn't harm his own. He wanted to make life better for his own. This was something I realized as the line was already out past the door and the meeting room was packed with photos of my dad's life playing on the TV screen. Now the sword was there for me to use. That's when I understood what Neo figured out in The Matrix. There was no sword (or spoon as the bald kid who symbolized the Budha informed him of). That's when I realized that I was able to let go of the struggle myself. To make this tragic scenario in so many people's lives atleast a little more tolerable. I had to find a silver lining somehow. I looked at my dad's body, and I saw his smile. I knew what I had to do as I cry while writing this now. However, I had to it in my own way since as much as I aspired to be like my father I never could be. He wanted me to be better if that is at all possible. Bottomline, I had to lift everyone's spirits up with the gift that I had been using to crush so many with in the 15 months leading up to his death. The gift I realized from the unlikeliest of mentor's; Tucker Max. My writing ability.
After the viewing we came home, drank and ate a little bit with HotTeacher along with Junior, his girlfriend, her friends, and my mom's friend. After they left I knew the eulogy had to be on point. I'd have to bring my A game. I knew my dad's final goodbye couldn't end in sadness. I poured myself a drink, emailed the eulogy to myself (email@example.com), downloaded it on our desktop, and got to work. I was up till 2AM and for once it wasn't to drink and chase skirts. It was to drink and to properly honor my father's memory.
The following day....
After allowing those who showed up time to view my father's body one last time everyone took a seat. It was time to get this started. I knew inevitably that this was going to be a pill that I would have to put everyone at ease enough to swallow. Everyone that went up speak before me did a great job of expressing in their own words who my father was. Now it was my turn. Time to send my dad off in a way that he would have wanted. This is the eulogy I wrote which I read aloud in front of a Catholic Priest with a thick Italian accent and demeanor so intimidating that I'm pretty sure he could have shot lightning bolts from his fingers:
My Father: Frank Arthur Waszut
July 5, 1957-May 20, 2012
By Frank Andrew Waszut
You know that guy who would give you the shirt off his back and his last dollar. The one that was always smiling and you wondered, "What the hell is he so happy about?" The one that always won on the lottery RIGHT when it was the most convenient while you could spend a week's paycheck on them and have less luck than Lebron James in the 4th quarter of a playoff game? The kind of guy that drives you nuts because he somehow was always right no matter how much you wanted to deny it while inevitably in the end you would feel stupid all on your own but you couldn't hate him because he was such an awesome guy?
Say hello to my father Frank or as he was also known as PapaFrank. In order to give you insight on how much he put Martin Luther King, Ghandi, and Clint Eastwood to shame I have to do a little backstory on him first.
He was born on July 5, 1957 to a battalion cheif for the Fire Department in a town called Passaic, New Jersey and to a mother living in government housing already raising his now numerous half-brothers and half-sisters. He didnt grow up with much in the way of money but what my grand mother lacked in funds she made up for in love and discipline. Due to this he started working at a dairy at the tender age of six which is younger than most kids that work in third world sweat shops. This would start a pattern that would go on until the day he passed on. He was a worker. He put food on the table for those that he cared about even before most kids realize what wetting the bed is.
It's funny. It seems like the best human beings come from the humblest of beginnings. I guess being raised by a single mother with a 6th grade education while hardly knowing his father, in one of the roughest projects in Northern New Jersey, sounds like the makings of a hip hop artist with thug influences who talks about "popping gats" and "bling bling". That wasn't my dad thought. Yeah, he could have easily turned to a life of crime as a "wise guy". He definitely had the ingenuity and balls to do it. He raised in the right environment to be a real life character from The Sopranos which was his favorite tv show. Well, that and Board Walk Empire which he would make me watch incessantly. That would have been too easy for him though. That's the thing about my dad. He never took the easy way out. Even if it would have benefitted him in spades. He decided instead to take the honorable route. He always spoke to me of destiny even when I thought such a thing was as real as fire-breathing unicorns.
Well destiny would have it that he would work his way through school and I when I say work his way I mean he would fix his teacher's cars in order to get passed through classes. That was his two passions (besides his family and friends of course). Anything with an internal combustion engine and fixing things. Naturally this meant he would fall into a career as mechanic and a tow truck driver. Both of which he would eventually get to a Yoda-like level at. I mean he started driving 18 wheelers at the age of 16 around the same time he moved out on his own. Yeah that's right, he moved out at the same age that you could witness overprivileged kids of the same age on cheesy MTV shows with dry bars recieving Bentleys as gifts. You know? The types of birthday parties that are only awesome until you experience the joys of vodka.
Everyone talks about what it takes to be a man now a days. Most think it's when you lose your virginity. Others think when it's when you have your first beer or fist fight. However any boy with deep seeded in securities can do these things. My dad knew this. He knew what it really took to be a man is to protect your own. That's what he lived his life by. Also a real man has to start his own family and in order to do that you need a pretty lady.
Enter my mom (Hi Mom, sorry if I'm making you blush). Their romance started just like anything else in my father's life, i.e. unorthodox while working in his own way. Kind of like Hunter S. Thompson minus the rampant drug abuse. He saw my mom walking into a bar by a parking lot that he was towing cars at. The second he saw her he immediately wanted to talk to her even though he was told it would be more futile than trying to nail jello to a tree. Like I said though my dad was crafty while having a set of balls that would make Teddy Roosevelt jealous. What did he do? He only "accidentally' blocked my mom's car in and talked her into having a glass of wine with him. After that day they were more inseperable than Chuck Norris and his jokes.
Approximately 6 years later I came kicking and screaming into the world followed by my brother 5 years later. Where as my brother's birth was easier than unloading a pez dispenser mine was about as painless as pushing out a bowling ball. Seriously, my dad told me all the time about how the nurses jaws would hit there floor especially upon learning that my mom did it with no epidoral and witnessing my oversized ginger skull. The funny part is that would only be the beginning of the painful joys of parenting that my parents would ecperience with me and later my brother.
Shortly after the birth of my brother, my father moved us to Charleston, SC from Sparta, NJ where we were living at the time. Things were great in this new town as my parents tried to figure why people here would say hello to you for no apparent reason. Then a wrench got thrown into things and by wrench I mean a Category 4 Hurricane by the name of Hugo. The night before we evacuated my mom was arguing with my grand parents from my mom's side of the family since my grand father didnt want to evacuate from what was essentially an incoming 600 mile wide tornado with an approximately 20 foot storm surge and 140mph sustained winds. After being informed of my grandfather's intentions my Dad took a shot of vodka and responded with, "Tell PopPop that if he isn't at the Harris Teeter on Houston North Cutt at 6AM then I am going to come tie him up and throw him in the trunk." My grandfather wasn't late.
That was the other thing about my father. He commanded respect. Everyone that knew him did so. He just had this aura about him. Like he knew something even if only subconsciously. Honestly, I don't think he fully comprehended it. I sure as hell didn't and I lived with the guy for 28 years. I do know it made him as happy and optimistic as the Dalai Lama. Even though he had a look that was very intimidating in all reality he was a big teddy bear that treated people for who they really were; human beings. It didn't matter if you were a bum, a cop, the mayor, or an 20 year old college student with curves that could cause a car wreck. He treated everyone the same not to say he wouldn't cut someone a break because afterall driving a tow truck isn't the most popular job and you get to see a side of people that many rarely see of human nature. Whether it would be that of anger, sadness, or lust. He didn't caved into any of them. He had plenty of opportunites. He loved my mom and was always faithful to her no matter the temptation. My favorite example being:
Girl: "I'll do ANYTHING to get my car back."
For those that aren't keen on innuendo she was talking about mowing his lawn.
PapaFrank: "Sure, as long as my wife can watch and afterwards you pay to get your car back."
That's the other thing about my dad. His impeccable wit. He could always prove me wrong if he if I didn't realize it at first. I've lost count of how many times I had a disagreement with him only to think it over a few hours later and be like, "SON OF A BITCH, HE WAS RIGHT!". I mean it really was like arguing with Yoda when it came to him. It's a shame he wasn't a politician because he would have been one of the few good ones that could actually find peace and prosperity for the people he served. He did it for the people in his life. He put everyone's well being above his own.
I wasn't an easy kid to raise. I'm pretty sure I had my fair share of pre-school and elementary school teachers convinced that I was the anti-christ. He never gave up on me though even though he would have been totally justified in doing so. Im sure the Dalai Lama would have resorted to water boarding if he had to deal with me for more than a day when I was a kid. I mean one time I bit my first grade teacher Mrs. Harris's hand out of retaliation for not allowing me to use the chalk board during class for Christ Sakes. Not my dad though he. He raised me the same way he was raised, with love and discipline. The only difference was that unlike his father he never hit me because honestly that wouldn't have worked with a kid like me. However, like I said, he was far craftier than that. What was his form of discipline you ask? Diplomacy in the form of long drawn out conversations that would drive me nuts till I got the point. I mean seriously? What kind of father resorts to logic and reason with an egocentric ginger born with a severe case of ADD and anger issues and much less succeed at it?
I can't count how many times I had to yell, "I GOT IT!!!" During these long debates in order for the torture to end. There was a method behind his madness though which he always told me.
PapaFrank: "I always want to be your best friend."
He was in ways that I am still realizing as I reflect upon my father's life now. Where alot of men would lack compassion due to having a very distant relationship with their father. Mine was the opposite. He compensated for having barely had a connection with his father by trying to build a strong connection with my brother and I. Not to say it was the smoothest relationship at times but that's what happens when you get real close to people. You disagree. The difference was he forgave quick. That was another thing about my dad. He was a very forgiving person. 2nd chances? Shoot, my dad gave me chances like they were free samples at Costco which is where he took my mom every sunday. That's just who my dad was. He was the epitome of actions speaking louder than words as far as being a genuine human being was concerned.
He wanted to give his wife and children the family environment he never got to have. That's what makes this so hard. I've been punched, kicked, elbowed, burned, head butted, bitten, car wrecked, and any other sort of trauma you can think of. Physical and emotional. Nothing hurts worse than this. Losing someone that not just me and my family was so close too, but all the countless people whose lives that he touched. It's unreal. I've heard more people tell me about how great of a person he was and how much he helped them that I've honestly lost count. Anyone that is reading this along with anyone that is listening to me read this is a testament to that.
So, we all know how people say "the good die young". Obviously I guess my dad's untimely passing was an inevitability for which no one had any control over. I know I've felt guilt over it as I'm sure many of you have. It's natural and human to feel these things. My father understood that better than anybody. That's why he always sacrificed himself for those around him because that is ultimately what matters. Making sure that when your time comes the people that were in your life were better for having been in it. That can't be bought. Can't be purchased with cash or a credit card. It's not something that can be measured in material wealth. It's not even something you can totally experience consciously.
He invested in people. He knew that's what mattered. He knew that's what true wealth was. The connections made with those around him. Human or otherwise. The out pouring of support we have recieved since his untimely passing has been unreal. I thought I knew how many people that my father touched. I wasn't even close. I'm going to miss you Dad. I love you. Thank you for giving me the 28 years I had with you. Hopefully I can pay it forward in a way that will make you proud wherever you are. Goodbye.
I nearly lost it as I sat back down next to my mom. Everyone loved it (the eulogy, not my eyes watering like I just got nailed with the emotional equivalent of pepper spray). I was told later that the priest was caught between rolling his eyes and laughing his ass off. Everyone laughed. People that knew my father said that I had all of his mannerisms. I did my father's bidding and now I could start my own grieving process.
2 days later...
I was riding my mom out to my dad's bosses house. He lives out on John's Island which is 4th largest island on the East Coast behind Martha's Vineyard, MA. On the way out we had to find a BP since the 97' Miata that my dad bought my mom was low on gas. I over shot the the turn on Highway 17 to get to John's Island since I took the Glenn McConnell Parkway looking for a BP thinking I could take Bee's Ferry Rd to shoot out before Main Rd. For anyone that is familiar with West Ashley you are probably laughing your ass off. Yea, yea laught it up. Anyway I was getting ready make a U-Turn in Ravenel when I spotted a BP. We pulled in and my mom gave me a gas card that she had which didn't completely fill it up the tank. I used my debit card to fill it the rest of the way. As if I was filling it up the pump made that all too familiar "CLICK !!!". I look at how much I spent.
That is synonamous with my birthday and the last day the we were all together as a family with my dad still alive.
Ok Dad. I got it.