I know it's off topic, and I know it's not related to cycling. I just felt like writing.
Today, my father passed away, at age 87. The doctors would tell you he had heart failure, but I know it was a broken heart. We lost my mom, his wife of just under 67 years, in January. Dad was a stoic, and he never, ever complained, but he just wasn't the same without Mom.
Born in 1923, my dad was orphaned as a teenager. He was a waist gunner and radio operator in a B26, flying 65 combat missions in WWII.
He married his sweetheart, my mom, in 1943. They were together until she passed earlier this year. They built their own home in Ohio (and lived in it for 40 years), raised four children, and are survived by all four of us, eight grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren.
My Dad was a quiet guy, who never, ever complained. In the sixty years I knew him, I heard him curse just once. His favorite "swear word" was "nuts!" I remember resenting my Dad when I was growing up because he was never around. I was too young to understand that he had to work two - and sometimes three - jobs to support his family.
My Dad worshipped my Mom; to the very end they held hands; they danced two or three times a week, and he still gave her a flirtatious smack on her butt when he walked past her.
He was the kind of guy who knew everyone. Mom would complain that it took too long to do the grocery shopping, because Dad was talking to the cashiers, other customers, anyone. He just loved to talk to people.
To the very end, Dad kept his sense of humor. Even this weekend, when he was in the hospital with a heart attack, he was joking with his nurses as long as he could.
Dad took up bicycling again just last year - buying a bike I found for him on Craigslist and riding it around his mobile home park when the South Florida heat wasn't too intimidating.
After I got the news this morning, I took a ride on my bike, and thought about my Dad. I'm really going to miss him. This past year, he and I worked on his "autobiography" and I'm so happy to have it. I'd send him questions via email, and he'd send me back the answers. I learned so much about his early life I never knew. I'll be able to share that with my brothers and sisters (who don't even know it exists) this week. It was one last gift he could give to us all.
I'm not terribly religious but I do think that Dad is reunited with Mom, after a short separation. We're going to have his service on Thursday, which is Veteran's Day. It's so appropriate. He was a hero - MY hero, for sure.
I love you Dad.