Father’s Day

stan bowkerMy father died about 50 years ago when I was about 19. I don’t exactly remember all the exact dates. My memory has gotten just a bit foggy over the years. So here’s my story.

My mom and dad got married after WW2. They got married on March 3, 1946. My father was not in the military due to his epilepsy. Plus he might have been a bit old for the military. They probably didn’t feel right starting a family while the war was going on. Another reason that they might have delayed getting married was that my mother was a school teacher and at that time school teachers were forbidden to be married. Get married, lose your job.

So marry they did. They had three children, born in 1947, 1948 and 1950. So they were well into their 40’s by the time all of my brothers and I arrived.

Okay, fast forward to the late fifties. My dad suffered a heart attack. I think it was 1958 or 1959. What I remember most about the incident was how little the hospital could do for him at the time. No open heart surgery. No stents. All they could do was have him rest. Eventually they sent home from St. Elizabeth’s. He asked the doctor how he was going to manage the stairs to our home on Etna Street in Brighton.

Doctor’s instruction was take a step and then say one Hail Mary, then repeat. Anyway, life went on. That’s it for post-hospital instructions. I suppose there might have been some medicines, but they didn’t tell this 10 year old.

So in November (or maybe December) 1966, my dad had gall bladder problems. Surgery scheduled. Back in the day, they didn’t have laparoscopic surgery. They did it the old fashioned way, they cut you open. In those days, there was no MRI so when they didn’t quite know what was wrong, they cut you open. The term they used was “exploratory surgery”. Yikes.

At any rate, Dad came out of surgery okay, but was suffering some bleeding (showing up in his urine, I guess). Mind you this was a man that only 8 years prior had had a heart attack. So they scheduled another surgery (exploratory this time). I learned this when I went to visit him at St E’s after school one day. At any rate, he coded during the surgery. The surgeons did managed to get his heart restarted, but the damage was done. He never woke from the surgery. He was in a coma for about 6-8 weeks before he died.

So here are my take-aways.

Medicine has come a long, long way since the 1950’s and 1960’s. Looking back on that time it seems like it was dark ages of medicine. If the heart attack had occurred even 20 years later, he might still be alive.

My Dad never got to see us get married and have children of our own. I can truthfully tell you that grandchildren are such a fantastic blessing. Nothing makes me happier than to have our grand-kids run up to me and say “Hi, Grandpa” along with a hug.

Happy Father’s Day everyone!

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