For the second time in less than a month, I found myself flying to a different corner of the United States, this time the Northeast. Ok, while Pennsylvania may not be in the far northeast corner of the country, it is still over 1000 miles away. This time it was not for pleasure. Rather it was for a death in the family.
Unfortunately, there no longer is a direct flight from Orlando, FL to Allentown, PA (Yes, the Allentown from the Billy Joel song). So we had to make a stop in Charlotte, NC. Actually, we felt quite lucky to grab tickets on Saturday for a flight the next morning. It was sort of a coincidence that Charlotte is also the host city for next year’s PASS Summit. Having just come back from this year’s PASS Summit in Seattle, WA, I suppose the coincidence only means something to me.
The flight to Allentown was uneventful. We arrived in time to witness my wife’s father take his last breath at the hospital. He had a massive coronary a few days before. There was nothing the doctors could do. It was a little surreal watching the monitors drop to zero understanding that every line on the monitor represented a different body function that was shutting down. It was the first time I ever witnessed someone actually die. I suppose that it is of some comfort that at an age of 83, he led a good and full life and died rather peacefully. Still it is hard to get my head around the fact that he will no longer be there. Perhaps our daughter, Natasha, said it best when she wrote and gave the following eulogy at the burial.
Say not in grief ‘He is no more.” But in thankfulness that he was.
Grandpa, on this day before Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the days I spent at your house before I was old enough to go to school, eating tomato soup and watching The Price Is Right.
I am thankful for every birthday that you flew down to Florida to celebrate with me bringing what seemed like an entire suitcase full of presents for us because you missed us so much.
You were a man of humble beginnings, but you always strived to better yourself.
You graduated from high school at a time when most people dropped out or were forced to go to work to support their families.
You inspired and supported your daughter and granddaughter to go to college.
We learned from you that you have to work hard to succeed in this world.
You will be with me in all the big events in my life, and even the small ones. I will always remember going to the ATM with you as you wondered why English and Spanish were the only options and not Pennsylvania Dutch, and I will remember when I use a microwave your amazement of how that tiny box can cook food so fast.
So today, I say not in grief, that he is no more, but in thankfulness that he was a part of my life and will always be in my heart.
We got back from Pennsylvania late Saturday night after repeated delays in our flight out of Allentown. I wish the delays were something exciting like snow, but rather it was just some mechanical malfunctions that needed to be checked out. On the other hand, we did get to see snow flurries on Saturday, something we had not seen in years due to living in Orlando, FL. Maybe that was his final gift to us as we prepared to leave for home.
We will miss you Dad.