We anticipate holidays as the joyous celebrations we hope they will be. Let me start out by saying that I am fortunate to have wonderful siblings and a great dad, my beloved mom (who passed away in 1999 at age 61), an wonderful grandmother, my inspiration (she is now 93), a great husband and two amazing daughters, sisters and brothers in law, nieces and nephews, fantastic cousins, and a father in law who I love dearly. In our many years of marriage (my husband Jim and I celebrated our 28th anniversary recently), we have spent every father's day with my dad.
This year, we decided to spend father's day with Jim's dad, Big Jim (dubbed by my sis Nancy). Big Jim is now 87, and is getting on in years with some of the unfortunate requisite difficulties, but he will always be bigger than life to me.
Big Jim never finished high school because his dad needed him at home and to help bring money into the house. He grew up in Queens and stayed there until he met my husband's mother and married her. He often worked 3 jobs to keep the family house in the black, something my husband will never forget. (My mother-in-law worked too.)
He was always a voracious reader, though in the past few years he has lost interest, we believe due to cognitive difficulties brought on by some type of water on the brain or parkinsons or a combination of things. He was been totally deaf in one ear since an ear infection at the age of 8, and has limited hearing in the other. He manages to hear, when his hearing aid is working, which seems to be less and less lately.
Conversation these days is difficult, but we all do our best, especially Big Jim. He and I always got along well, and have had many good conversations over the years. I miss those times. He and my mother in law Kay would come up from Florida to NJ most summers for two or three weeks to stay. Though it is bittersweet, when my mother in law was diagosed with cancer, they stayed with us for a number of months as she went through her many treatments. When Kay died, he stayed with us for several months again, helping me dig a new garden, and keeping us all in good company. Big Jim knew how to mourn, and tore up the earth instead of himself or us. We missed him terribly when he decided to go back home to Port St. Lucie. He had a wickedly sarcastic sense of humor, and could be counted on to be a wise guy.
When I worked as a counselor in hospice several years ago, I would often converse with people about their loved ones. So often they would say that they felt like their loved one was already gone, even though they were sitting right there. I'm beginning to feel that way about Big Jim, even though I am glad that I can still see him and visit him.