Ten years ago today I said my final goodbye to my father, John Alzo. I still remember holding his hand as he took his last breath in the room at the Hospice, and even after all this time, the tears are streaming down my face as I write this post. How can it possibly be 10 years?
|One of my favorite photos of my father, John Alzo, taken in the 1940s
But Dad would not want me to be sad. I can hear him now, “Don’t cry, Pumpkin.” (He used to call me this when I was a little girl). Instead, I will think about all of the good memories of my father and share the ten things I miss most about him.
1. His smile. My father always had a smile on his face. He was just a naturally happy person. His smile was big and beautiful. It makes me happy whenever I look at photos of Dad smiling such as the photo above which is one of my favorites.
2. Generosity. My father was generous with his time, his talents, and his money. It may sound cliche, but truly he was the type of person who would literally give you the shirt off his back and never expect a thing in return. He was a caring husband, father, brother, friend, and neighbor. One of my cousins once told me “If everyone had someone like your dad in their lives the world would truly be a better place.”
3. Seeing him sitting in his recliner. Dad loved his recliner. He would read the paper or watch sports on TV in his recliner. Without fail he would also spend many hours sleeping in that chair. I still look over at the chair he used in my home and imagine him sitting there with the afghan covering his legs, eating peppermint patties.
4. Those eyes. Beautiful and blue. In them you saw a humble and caring soul.
5. Laughter. Dad loved to laugh and joke around, especially with his long-time friends, Whitey and Andy. Dad even managed to joke and laugh nearly up until the minute he lost consciousness right before he died.
6. His favorite sayings. There were so many. Some I can share here, others I won’t. One that always made me laugh was “He couldn’t buy a crippled crab a crutch,” an old saying meaning you couldn’t afford to buy something). I honestly still don’t really get that one, but dad liked to say it. I will also never forget him saying “Time to go to the “emergency list”(meaning a grilled cheese sandwich). He would say this during lunch or dinner when he stayed at an assisted living place for awhile after a long illness and didn’t like any choices on the menu.
7. A calming presence. My mother was a firestorm and Dad was the calm. (I wish I could be more like Dad, but I take after my mother–it is down to those Rusyn genes I’m sure). Dad could handle any situation with quiet, strong resolve, even when life threw some pretty big obstacles at him like a stroke and Cancer. I could count on my one hand the number of times I saw my father truly get angry with anyone. It was not in his nature. And he forgave…a lot.
8. His hats. My dad loved hats. Mostly baseball style caps to keep his head covered and protected at work since he had a crewcut. Dad had a large collection of caps–football and baseball teams, and assorted other novelty-type hats. He also had some popular fashion styled hats in the 40s and 50s (like in the picture below).
|John Alzo, c. 1943
9. Love of sports. Dad was a basketball star in high school and then went on to play for many intramural and semi-professional teams in Western Pennsylvania–he played the game until he was in his early 50s. I am sure if he would have had a chance to play in big professional leagues he would have given anything to do so. His motto: “Shoot Your Best Shot,”–on the court and in life. Dad also liked to watch football (the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pitt). Dad took me to some great high school all-star high school basketball games when I was a teenager. Basketball was his life for a very long time.
10. His ability to fix things. Dad was a carpenter by trade and he could build beautiful things out of wood (decks, cabinets, you name it), repair roofs, and fix things. He had such skill and patience and took great pride in each nail he hammered. And, he could spot shoddy work in an instant. His work was appreciated by family, friends, and his community. Oh how I wish Dad were here to work on things around my house. More than the carpentry, Dad could fix things figuratively too. He wasn’t the overly affectionate type, but whenever I needed comforting after a disappointment or heartbreak, Dad was there. He would just envelope me in his big strong arms and tell me it was all going to be okay. And, he was always right.
If I had just one more day with my Dad I would tell him all of this and more. He was truly one of a kind.
©2015, copyright Lisa A. Alzo. All rights reserved.