Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Last Photograph

Hey All,       We all experience life differently.  We have memories that we can look back on that bring a smile, a chuckle or even a tear from a warm hearted memory.  These are treasures that come out of nowhere and remind us how very lucky we have been. 
       In  mid May 1986  Charlie and I were living with Grandmom in Buckingham.  At the time  I was working at the Central Bucks School District.. I  had recently gone from 3rd shift to 2nd and was enjoying having a reasonably normal routine with Charlie. I also had more time with Dad.
       Dad worked as an over the road truck driver for many years.  As teenagers we didn't see him very often due to his schedule.  With one of his employers,  he would be gone 6 months at a time on tour with music acts.  He toured with Jethro Tull, Foghat, The Commodores and Emotions.  He hauled their equipment and props along with other drivers from locations across the  USA.  He would send money home during this time and came home for a break for about a month before going on another tour.  He would usually get frustrated after about a month of enduring home life as we knew it and would say he couldn't wait to get back on the road.   Generally  he expressed this with a lot of colorful words.  He couldn't take Mom for to long.......So he left us with her instead. Yay!
       At this time my Dad had a bad heart.  He had suffered from congestive heart failure and enlarged heart.  He had a minor heart attack out on the road but told no one about it a he didn't want anyone to worry about him.  We had no health coverage.  Dad was 54 years old.  He was home permanently now and on SSI  as he physically couldn't work anymore.  We saw each other almost daily.  Charlie was his only grandchild and they spent  a lot of time together.  Dad would take Charlie with him to the hardware store, the garden, spotting deer in the evenings or for ice cream.   Dad would sometimes come home with a story of their outings.  They would watch the deer in the fields and Charlie would yell out the truck window for the deer to come to him.  Of course the deer disappeared instead which ended the trip. They loved each other and I was almost emotional at times as I watched them together.
        I have always enjoyed photography.  I had one picture left on the roll and wanted to get what I had already taken developed.  I took my camera outside and found Charlie and Dad sitting on the sidewalk by the backdoor.  Charlie had a small toolset in his hands as he had just "helped" Dad fix something on the truck and they were watching a big bug crawl across the the walk and were talking.  Grandmom was sitting in a lawn chair behind them looking out across town, lost in her thoughts.  I took a candid shot of them as my last picture.  It  turned out to be one of my most valuable treasures.                                   
         The next day, May 16th, 1986.   Dad passed away from a heart attack as he gave the dog a bath.  Grandmom, Charlie and Joe, my older brother were with him.  Charlie watched Dad fall and was there as the EMTs tried their best to revive him..  Charlie kept screaming that Grandpop was dead and was taken inside.  Charlie cried and talked about how much he was going to miss his Grandpop.  I explained to Charlie about his Grandfathers love for him,  about heaven and that the time would come they would play together again.   Charlie was 3 years old and Dad was the only grandparent that he had a relationship with then.  Grandmom had lost her son..........he died about 80 feet from where he was born.
         I can see that photograph as an  8X10 framed and hanging on the wall from where I sit now.   It's hung on a wall in every place that I've lived............ and will until I get to see Dad again.  Every time I look at it,  I find myself kneeling down in front of them, looking through the lens and how thankful I was as I brought them into focus, that Dad had the time to spend with Charlie.  
        Until the next time..........God Bless

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