Since this blog began twelve years ago, I have documented many moments. Lots of those have been Duran focused like the release of a new album or video. Some of them have been historical like an election or a tragic event. A few of them have been personal. This blog is going to be one of those personal ones.
If you know me at all, you know that my family is very close. I am the youngest of three and despite the geographic distance of my siblings, we are in frequent contact. Believe it or not, covid brought us closer as the family text chain got a lot more action as did the family zooms. We got through the worst together. In more recent years, the contact has centered around my dad and his health, fighting two significants health conditions as well as more temporary but acute conditions. In many cases, I initiated the conversations as my parents moved to be closer to me. While my mom took care of the day-to-day caregiving, my parents often relied on me to fill in the gaps, to help, and to support and especially in times of crisis.
On Saturday, December 3rd, I received a phone call from my mom telling me through tears that my dad had taken a fall and that she had called 911. While immediate injuries were too concerning, his condition began to deteriorate. Yet, at one point, he rebounded and conversations shifted to rehab facilities only to have things take a turn a couple of days later. A week after the initial fall, we knew where things were headed and I called my siblings to tell them that it was time to come home. Luckily, my sister was able to get a flight that night and my brother arrived around noon the next day. About an hour after my brother arrived to join us the hospital, my father took his last breath.
Beating on my heart like a feather
As we begin the process of taking care of all of the details necessary, my family has talked a lot about who my dad was and the lessons we learned from him. One of the biggest lessons was the power of hard work and integrity. My dad was always a hard worker, not only in every job that he had but also in taking care of the family. It was common for my dad to go and help my grandparents or any of us kids. He sacrificed over and over again for his family. I like to think that I’m a hard worker and that I have and would sacrifice for those I love like he did. In addition, he taught us about the importance of constantly learning. He would routinely ask us questions at the dinner table, both about our schooling but also questions about the world that he thought we should know. He made us want to learn. In addition, he showed the importance of standing up for your beliefs. I remember having to make a difficult decision about whether or not to join my colleagues, my union, in not going to work to keep our union rights and good working conditions. I turned to him and he reminded me that I need to stand up for what is right, even if it costs me something.
Of course, my dad loved fiercely. His love for my mom was felt by anyone and everyone who ever was around them. They balanced each other well and truly enjoyed each other’s company. Even when he was in the hospital for his final days, he would proudly introduce his wife to the medical staff that came in and told them that she was “the best.” Of course, he introduced me, too. He was so proud of his family, not because any of his children made a lot of money but because we were good people who treated people well and did our parts to make the world a better place. Oh, yes, my dad had a political side to him, having canvassed for his political candidate of choice way back in the 1950s. He also helped me with each and every campaign I worked on. He enjoyed calling Ron Johnson office frequently to tell him how wrong he was by this vote or that vote. While my dad was no spring chicken, he worked hard to give moving with the times, often supporting causes that many of his age backed away from like LGBTQ rights.
All that being said, my father taught me about fandom. He, like many others growing up on the south side of Chicago, rooted for the White Sox. Rooted might be a bit of an understatement. He lived and breathed the Sox, watching each and every game, traveling to ballparks across the country to see the team play and much more. I learned very quickly what fandom looks like and how it could bring people together. It certainly brought my family closer as we frequently discuss the Sox’s latest moves or give opinions about the manager’s decisions about pitch hitting late in games. When the Sox experienced great success like someone pitching no-hitter or playing in the playoffs we were in constant communication, cheering and celebrating together.
My dad was not into tradition or fuss. Therefore, we knew that he would not want an elaborate service. Instead, we want to honor him in the way that fits him. We are planning on making a pilgrimage of sorts to places that meant something to him or where he shared fond memories. The bulk of the trip will be spent in Illinois and a lot in his beloved south side, including and, most importantly, taking in a Sox game.
Here is the one thing that I have never doubted–I lucked out in the parents department. I could not have asked for a better dad. He was the best.