November Column Winner


John Hruby, The Marlow Review

Our parents teach us many lessons. Some we are more willing to absorb — others have to be learned the hard way.
My dad died earlier this week and it was something the entire family had prepared for — for many months. Years ago “Papa” began forgetting things; how to get to the store, where we were going, or if he had ordered a meal at a restaurant.
My dad was the epitome of “gentleman.” He would always open doors for ladies, call the church and tell my mother it was time to come home if a meeting was running too late and to make sure everything was done for my mom.
With his forgetfulness he lost track of things like the monthly bills. For my mom, a woman for whom these things had been taken care of, it was a shock and one that had a steep learning curve.
We had toyed with the idea of getting Papa a cell phone in case he wandered away.
One day he dropped my mom off at a car dealership to pick up her car. She went home, but he did not show up.
After an hour she called. I speculated he had gone to downtown Duncan to have coffee with friends. Shortly afterward, I set off down Highway 81 to find him. On a whim I pulled into Wal-Mart because I knew he liked to go in and get movies to watch.
As I pulled to the front of the store, there he was, on a bench by the front door. Rolling my window down I asked him what he was up to. He replied that he was waiting on Greta (a pet name for my mother) to come pick him up.
I told him that he had driven himself there and he should hop in and we would find his car. Several rows later we found the car and, as I followed, he made his way home.
I think that was the last time he drove. Suddenly, he was happy to be a passenger — very out of character for the gentleman. Fortunate for us, his not driving was okay with him — although he had his keys in his pocket. That was enough to make him happy, and now he carried a cell phone with him as well.
More recently, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Our experience was that it robbed him of strength, coordination and an appetite. If there was an upside, it was that the Parkinson’s medication seemed to lessen his forgetfulness.
It has been an interesting transition as the roles of parent and child have reversed over the past 10 years.
Those people who molded us as children now needed our help and direction — and we give it gladly for all they had done for us; attending the dance recitals, football games, scout camps, school plays, buying a car, or advice about life’s intricacies.
It is our turn to put into practice the lessons our parents have taught us, and they have taught us well.
I will miss you dad. You have touched countless lives and left an abundance of memories for us all. Thank you for what you have taught me. I have learned my lessons, yet I am still learning.

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