Dad passed away at 5:10 a.m. His body just couldn't handle the surgery and all the trauma of the past year, and he finally let go.
The last year was hard for him -- for all of us -- but I don't want all the suffering to define my memories of him, so I'm trying to focus on the years before that.
When I was 18 and dyed my hair black, my mother had a fit. But before that, I just walked out of the bathroom with my Cher-Little Orphan Annie hybrid, and he looked at me and said, "Your mother is going to kill you," as though he were telling me the baseball score. There wasn't a whole lot he needed from me. As long as I was happy and not in prison or the hospital, he was happy.
Dad enjoyed life fully. His memories of the war, at least the ones he shared with us, were mostly of nurses and food. He loved my mother the way all of us should love and be loved. At parties, he danced until he couldn't dance any more. I danced every first dance of the evening with him.
Dad didn't spend a lot of time brooding. When his first wife died, he mourned intensely and remarried quickly. Life was too short to spend it alone. When he was 60 and his new wife wanted to adopt a child, he was on board, and he threw his heart into it.
The last time I saw him conscious was Christmas Eve. I put him to bed and told him I loved him, and he told me he loved me. Our relationship was simple.
It's finally over, Dad. I miss you. The only thing you ever wanted this past year was to know where Mom was, and now you do.