On Tuesday, April 8, 2008, my dad passed away at home at the age of 83. He'd been in the hospital for a procedure, but stayed there due to complications that ensued. He demanded that I take him home after only a couple of days, but he was quite ill and, as his caregiver, I felt unable to handle the many health issues he was facing. On Monday, against medical advice, he released himself from the hospital and I reluctantly took him home. On Tuesday morning, I found him in the bathtub, water running, leaning over and unconscious, gasping for breath. Emergency technicians were unable to revive him.
My dad was an incredibly complex and wonderful man. He was kind and generous, always thinking of my brothers and I. He was stubborn and pigheaded, a certified genius and a brilliant engineer. He was gifted artistically and decades ahead of his time, particularly about environmental issues. Even at this last hospital visit, he wanted me to dig through the can of medical waste to fish out the breathing tubes that he was hooked up to so he could use it in one of his experiments. I told him I drew the line at digging through containers marked "biohazard." Even as an avowed Republican, he admitted to me that he thought George Bush is an ass. I loved that!
He was a man who was enchanted with ideas. He has literally tens of thousands of books. A lifelong engineer, he learned all he could about homeopathy and did everything in his power to help others with it. Looking through his vast library, he had books on topics as varied as mining gold from the ocean water, dowsing, time travel, cooking, history, Poland, biology, nature, the cosmos....the list goes on. This was a man whose body let him down well before his mind ever did. Even on our way to the hospital, at 5:30am, hurtling north on the FDR Drive, my dad pointed out the huge, gold sliver of the moon that was hanging low over Brooklyn. It was gorgeous. There are people much younger than he who would never have noticed this beautiful sight, let alone enjoyed as much as he did. While in pre-op, he told me excitedly about the show on PBS he'd seen the night before on the Mars Rover project, and how close it had come to failing.
This was a man so full of life, so interested in all it had to offer, that the shock of his passing is greater than I can express. All I can say is that I owe much of who I am today to him.
I'll never see him smile again. Never hear him laugh. He'll never show me his latest book or wander downstairs to tell me about a show I have to watch. I'll never again say, as was my habit when we were done with our nightly visit, "Dobranoc Pop. I love you."
Dobranoc, Pop. I love you more than I can say.