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Thursday, April 12, 2007

A little song, a little dance...


As part of catching up on what has happened lately I have to mention that my dad passed away on March 14th. He had had a severe stroke in June 2004 (a few hours after the funeral of Frank Kraemer, who was the husband of my sister, Chris, who died in 1994) and was not expected to make it. But he did make it. And although the stroke weakened him physically (he was no longer able to drive, which affected him greatly) he remained mentally strong. He also changed emotionally. While it always seemed difficult for him to express his emotions (he had very emotionally reserved Germanic parents) after the stroke he was much, much better about it. Maybe it was because he needed people, especially my mother, to do things for him that he used to be able to do himself; maybe he decided that after facing death he would purposely be nicer (I am thinking of the song "Live Like You Were Dying"). Or maybe the stroke actually physically changed his brain that caused some of the emotional change. I don't know, but it was very touching to see my normally reserved dad telling my mom over and over again how much he loved her. To be truthful, within a few months after the stroke some of that old veneer had returned, but it was too late since by then we all knew what a softy he was. In the end, the last three years after the stroke were a blessing of untold proportions.

When it came, the end came quickly (something I'm sure he appreciated). At first his hospital stay was expected to be brief. Once things turned for the worse and it became only a matter of keeping him comfortable, I worried that I might not make it back from Prague in time. Moving here involved weighing the benefits of the experience with the negative consequences of being so far away from family. My biggest concern with living in Europe was exactly what happened - having something happen to one of our parents. In the end, though, I made it back and was able to spend a few hours with him before he passed. Others say that he was holding on until I got back, and I would like to think that is true, since it demonstrates concretely the power of love and at least implies some kind of control over death (albeit fleeting).

My father was a very good man. He raised and provided for six kids and was married to the same woman for 58 years. It is an honor to be his son and I will miss him very much. If your parents are still alive, why not stop by for a visit (if you live near them) or call them on the phone. You won't regret it.

2 comments:

Styopa Channervich said...

The late Mr. Tischler was, in essence, a curmudgeon. Honestly, I was scared of the guy when I was a young man. But his son took his best qualities - honor, hard work, loyalty, and family, and made them his own...and left out the rough edges. A man's greatest accomplishment is his family--nice, no great, family Al, Sr. We miss you, even if we were afraid of you...

Todd said...

Bah! I was never afraid of him, though I could understand if you weren't part of the family and felt that way. I still have memories of him reading the newspaper and chain-smoking (pre-stroke) while I watched HBO (which I didn't have at home). We would small talk. It was my way to getting to know him better. I love you Grandpa.