Three years ago tonight, my Dad died. It was very sudden. It was Holy Thursday, 2007, and he'd spent the day checking things on the roof and chasing squirrels. It was 2 days before his birthday.
My Mom called me because he was acting wifty. By the time I got to their house, 2 blocks away, she'd called the ambulance.
Two hours later he was dead. So heartbreaking sudden. So many people to notify.
This is the last picture I have of him. Manda and Ben had come to see new baby Julianna, and we had Sunday dinner at my house. Dad kept asking Ben about life in "Na-brew-ski."
Easter dinner 2007 was spent finalizing details for Dad's funeral. The food had already been bought, so we came together to grieve and remember. Manda and Steph asked my Mom if girls could be pallbearers. Of course they could! So four of Dad's six grandchildren carried him on his final journey- Jake was too little and Heather had just had a baby. Representatives from the Navy were there to play taps and present the flag. One of the Navy personnel was a woman, which made Mom laugh and would have appalled Dad.
We buried him in his red hat, with his own blanket, and a can of Piels beer. Jacob had written him an Easter note and found a heart shaped rock, which also accompanied him.
All the "firsts" without Dad have passed. Yesterday was our third Easter without him, and we were discussing how much he used to enjoy the egg hunts with the kids. There are days when I don't think of him at all, and that kind of amazes me. He would be so proud of Mikey, who just graduated motorcycle repair school, and Steph and Manda, who graduate college next month with a bachelor's and master's. He'd be excited to welcome Ben to the family in June. He'd miss Eddie and Julie.
If Heaven is a garden, then Joe is there chasing squirrels and planting tomatoes. That's the memory of him that I want to hang onto. Rest in Peace, Joe, we love you.