A Life Worth Living

It has been one of the worst weeks of my life. I do not deal well with grief. I am one of those who puts it on the back shelf and ignores it the best I can. I moved back to Nevada in 2016, to be near my father who was turning ninety.  Can you believe my dad still worked? He had an upholstery shop in Winnemucca, Nevada. All of his life he has owned his own businesses, an auto body shop and furniture store, which are now run by my younger sister, Alicia.

Last year my dad wanted to move closer to my sister, so she fixed him up an apartment close by her.  He was so happy, he retired at ninety-three and was nestled around his kids and grandkids.  He really loved his apartment. Then it was time to take his car away because it was not safe anymore for him to drive. He really did not mind. He had my nephew Lou to drive him where he went. I think Lou liked it too.

My dad was born in 1926. His father died when he was six months old and he was raised by raised my grandma Mary Elizabeth and his older siblings. He went into the Navy as an officer. he loved aeronautics and he studied it with business after World War II. He worked for Pan Am, along with his older brother.  He loved cars and was building roadsters with his brother Jim, who had an auto body shop in California.  My dad took up auto body repair and that was his profession for over 65 years.  His shop was always a mixture of auto body, upholstery or glass. he stayed in the upholstery business for 22 years until he retired at age 93.

I had so many amazing times with my dad. One of my favorite memories was when I would rode my pony Shadow with him throughout the Nevada desert. He was also a Justice of the Peace and we would ride to check on ranchers all around the small town in Northern Nevada.  I was five years old, with no shoes and no saddle. Just the way I loved it.

One time my mom made me mad and I packed my Barbie case and was running away. My dad saw me on the walk home from the shop for lunch. He said, “Donne (my nickname) where are going?” I said, “I have had it with her. I am running away to Winnemucca.”  He laughed and replied, “Honey, you are going the wrong way. How about you and I go to lunch at the Owl Club and we can talk about it.” I agreed. Of course, he talked me out of it. So, I went home, with Barbie case in tow. 

When I was a senior in high school, I was homecoming queen. I explained to him he had to be at the football game during halftime to escort me with my mother onto the field. I very sternly told him that he had wear nice slacks and a nice shirt. No coveralls from the shop. He laughed and agreed. I will never forget being dressed in my formalwear, with my school colored cape and crown and seeing my father get out of that tan ford truck with his coveralls on, as my mother stepped out dressed up.  I gave him that look, and he laughed and said, “No worries Miss America,” and unzipped his coveralls with his nice clothes on under it. He loved giving me a bad time.

My Dad was always supportive of anything I did. He made me a set of hurdles to run at our house and let me dig a long jump pit so I could practice. He always had a sense of humor when I marched into his shop and complain about my Pinto car. He was the first person I remember seeing after my accident. I remember him reading cards and letters to me and seeing him look so weak. I had never seen him like that ever before. I asked him what happened, and he told me I was in an accident. I asked him if I hurt anyone. I guess I thought I wrecked that stupid Pinto. He replied, “no honey you did not hurt anyone.” After my accident, he would tell my mother, “Ruth just let her do what she wants to do.” My poor mother did. I was raised by great parents.

Last week my sister called me and said he was sick and needed to go into long term care and had fallen. I assured her it was the right thing to do. I felt so sad for her, she felt bad to be the one to put him there. She asked me to call him because he listens to me. I did, and it was our last conversation. I said, “Dad, it’s Donnie.”  He said. “Who, who is this…oh Donnie, hi honey how are you?”  I replied, “Hey Dad, how are things in the hospital?” He said with a clear voice: “Well pretty nice they fed me.” Then he asked me, “Where are you honey?”  I replied, “In Salt Lake, Dad, I will come see you next week.”  He said, “Okay, I love you, see you then.”

He died two days later.  I guess I have not come to terms with the fact he is not here, for fifty-seven years he has been here for me and my sister. I think the two of us were the closest to him. She always said that I was his favorite, but I always replied, “then why did he buy you the good cereal?” His name was Harold Richard Crosthwaite, better known as Dick. Many people loved him and he touched their lives.  I am sure there is a Pecan Punch waiting for him in heaven.