He Was My Dad

He came came home from Korea when I was 8 months old to be my Dad.

When he was in Korea, he was doing night watch at a guard post. It was blown up while right underneath him as he was standing guard, and he survived. He worked in the army kitchen for a bit of time, and went back to his regular posts once he was physically 100%. He often talked about climbing to the top of a sheer sided mountain. It was really hard & he said he had to plan every move and dig his fingers into the mud just to make any headway. He figured that once he got to the top, that it was likely that there was an easy slope on the other side to climb down. When he got to the top, there was no easy way down. It was sheer sided on every side. Before he set about figuring a way down, he stopped to take in the view.

He brought back photos, pictures and slides when he came home, and he would set up the projector on family evenings, showing us his adventures. He would show us the cities and towns in Korea, how they lived and how the beauty of the the country was breathtaking. He showed us what true poverty looked like. We looked forward to these photo nights. It was part of who he was and it became part of who we were because he was our father. He was protective, but He wanted us to know, he shared himself and his adventures with us both good, bad and tragic.

He came home from Korea with hemorrhagic fever. There was no cure for it, I don’t know if there’s any cure for it even today. He got a job at the gas company in Chicago to support us and he worked the graveyard shift in the dead of night during the winter reading meters, conducting emergency repairs, and fixing one crisis after another as they cropped up. He came home in the morning to get some rest, and he would get up and go back to work, because most of the time, he was also on call.

He survived a roll over car accident in 1972. By that time, there were four of us kids … all daughters. He went out at about midnight because we were out of milk. Some teenagers ran a red light and plowed into his VW bus. It rolled over four times, and the last thing he remembered was being ejected out of the driver side door, and feeling like his head landed on a pillow. The doctors were amazed that he survived.

He sang 2nd Tenor in the Lyric Opera House in Chicago … while he continued to work at the gas company. I remember going on a school field trip to the Lyric knowing he was singing in The Flying Dutchman. I could hear his voice over and above all the chorus, I could close my eyes & know it was him. He would fill our home with his voice. I grew up hearing La Traviata. He would to hang out with some of the world’s operatic greats. He sang all his life even up to the week before he died.

He was a Priest and built a church for a congregation who had only a run down little white building to worship in. The new church still stands today. It is beautiful. I can see his work in every door he stained, the tile he laid and the art work he & my mother put into around the windows. When he spoke, You would hear poetry, the language of the heart.

When I went into adolescence, he would track me down for fear I was in danger. If he couldn’t find me, (I had lots of friends) … He would wait up alone for me in the dark all night, I would sneak in through a window, he would check my bed hoping I would be in it … and eventually hoped I would realize that I was being an idiot girl to the family who loved me.

He began his own HVAC business after we moved to the southwest. He ran that business successfully for almost 40 years. My mother died 2002, and still he continued to work his business. He was hauling furnaces by sheer strength alone onto rooftops and completing commercial installs with no assistance from a team.

He survived a second auto accident where he was T-Boned by an SUV in 2006. He was making a left hand turn on a suburban street when an SUV plowed into his driver side at 60 MPH. He survived that and he attributed it to being in a Lincoln. In 2008 he had acute appendicitis, and because it was the weekend, he refused to go to the hospital until. I sat with him all Saturday night knowing he was in a health crisis. Suddenly at 2am he got up and said, “okay, let’s go” … When we got to ER, after all the tests, found his appendix had ruptured and he needed emergency surgery. He survived that too.

With a dad that is that strong, tenacious and focused, you would think he would live to be at least 100 years old. His mother did. She was just as strong. He came down with pneumonia and he stayed his course for a week before he finally went in on a Tuesday for an office visit with his primary care doctor. The diagnosis came as Pneumonia … it was bad and he needed hospitalization. At the hospital, more news … acute renal failure. He minimized it … for he was incredibly stoic. “It’s only a little bit of renal failure going on. I’ll be fine,”

Surgery was needed to drain fluid from his lungs, they needed to keep drainage tubes in his longs to keep the fluid from building up. They got his kidneys back and so, you see … He BEAT pneumonia and acute renal failure. Then he caught the superbug, C-Diffile & he beat that too … the first time.

C-difficile is a It is an intestinal infection, a type of superbug; It is the MRSA of intestinal bugs. You know … he had lost at least 30 lbs by that time and had no appetite … but he still beat the C-Diff. But he couldn’t beat it when it came back. He had a relapse of C-Diff and he just didn’t have the resources to fight it the second time around. When he went back to the hospital from the nursing facility, the admitting doctor went over the records from the beginning. He said, “Your dad got C-Diff from the hospital” …. and then there were phrases like “relapse”, “Prognosis not good”, … But for me, they didn’t know my dad; My Dad could survive anything; But he couldn’t survive it this time.

The bad news is that C-Diff is on the rise. If you need hospitalization for anything, the longer your stay in the hospital, the larger your chances of catching a hospital related superbug. When dad got C-diff, we did the research. C-diff cannot be killed with any alcohol based sanitizer. Hand sanitizer, wipes … they won’t kill it. C-diff is a spore that enables the hard outside shell to survive almost any adverse conditions for weeks on end until it finds it’s way into a moist enabling environment.

What kills C-Diff? Bleach, soap and hot water … and friction, scrubbing to break down the outer spore.

If you land in a hospital and they are not cleaning everyday with bleach, soap, water and scrubbing, you need to get to a cleaner hospital. Half of Critical Care where dad was at was in quarantine from superbugs. Yet day after day, even though the staff would “clean”, they were not cleaning thoroughly or not at all. The dirt in the corners were there day after day. We thought we could get clorox wipes and wipe everything down. The bad news is … Clorox wipes have NO bleach in them. You virtually need to make your own bleach wipes if the hospital staff is not doing their job. You can advocate for your loved one as much as you can; Research the best & cleanest hospitals in your city in advance just so you know where you want to go if you ever get ill, or if your loved ones might get sick.

I would hate to see anyone else go through the loss like our family has.

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