Five years ago my stepfather Pat took the truck to Steeler Heaven. It was sudden, but not surprising, when he left us. His heart had been giving him shit for a little while and you could see it as he moved around. When he died, I was glad he wasn’t suffering anymore. It’s not how he wanted to live and everyone who knew him understood that.
It certainly threw my mom for a loop. I have no idea if she was in denial about his health or truly didn’t see it. It’s taken her a long time to get to an okay point. She’s got the dogs to keep her company and occasionally we joke that Pat’s messing with them, making sounds only they can hear so they bark like 17 mail carriers are coming to the door.
I still miss him every day. He never got to meet Mr. Lyndsy, which is exceptionally sad because they have a lot in common. They both love football (just not the same football). Passion for a sport is apparently the same, regardless of the sport. Mr. Lyndsy even has some of the same mannerisms that Pat did. I also think if Mr. Lyndsy were ever hospitalized, they’d also have to take the TV remote away to keep him from watching his teams play since the stress would drive the hospital’s monitors crazy.
I like to think that Pat would be proud of me for the choices I’ve made, for exploring new parts of the world, and doing the best I can do given the situation I find myself in. He knew all about pain affecting how you live and how much it sucks. He’d probably tell me to go easier on myself and just do what I can since I’m no good to anyone if I’m totally wiped out and stuck in bed to recover.
I’m sorry he didn’t get to spend more time with his granddaughter or meet his grandson. Pat was basically an overgrown kid himself, which is why he could have so much fun of them. I’m sure he would have liked to see the father his son has become.
I still cry when I miss him. He had a special kind of orientation toward life that made you want to live more, push boundaries, and see just what you can accomplish. You don’t often meet people who live with the kind of bravery he did. He was himself, whether that was good or bad for the time. You could always count on that.
I hope that wherever he is he’s got a nice cold beer (preferably a Guinness), an excellent hat, and socks that have been washed sometime in the last few months. Since it’s early in the football season his socks probably are still mostly clean. If it were later in the season I can guarantee they’d smell like something a dog buried and then unearthed.
Here’s to you, Pat. May we all live as courageously as you did.