My mom walked into our house through the breezeway, up the 2 steps to the kitchen to the intersection that led to our living room. She turned left and saw my dad, dead on the couch, with our Fox Terrier, maddingly trying to wake Daddy up.
It was lunch time at school, I was on the lower playground and someone came to me and said they saw an ambulance at our house. I thought perhaps something had happened to the lady who watched us after school. Then I saw someone taking my brother up the stairs and my teacher took me to my brother who was with the special ed teacher who actually was a distant cousin. He led us to the office where my mother stood with tears in her eyes. She said, "Frank's dead". Then she started to sob. She led us out to the car and we drove home. There were already a plethora of county sheriff's cars there and neighbors and friends from the hospital where my mother taught in the school of anesthesia. One of her friends took us downtown to the Lad and Lassie store to buy clothes for the funeral.
The body had been examined by our family physician who told my mom because of the bruising on the left side, he was pretty sure that he had had an aneurysm. We saw our dad the next day at the funeral home. The same place his brother had been in several years earlier. Compared to pictures that were taken, they could have been twins. Dad's photo was taken by the newspaper and given to my mom.
He had been a county sheriff for over 30 years. It was said at his funeral that he knew every street and road in the county, the largest in the state. He was known at the one-room schools in the rural areas as the friendly cop. He was known by the parents of my friends as the cop who pinched them when they were speeding, DUI, or fighting. He was known to me as Daddy.
The man whose lap I sat in, and beamed when I could read books to him. The man who took my brother and me to parks so we could fly to the sky on the swings. The man who baited our fish hooks and ran the engine in our 13 foot Alumnacraft boat and took us to the resort and got us to duck our heads when we went under low bridges on the lake. The man who followed a path from our cabins to the lake when I was in girl scout camp between 5th and 6th grades. The man who took us on the Milwaukee Road to Chicago to see the Ringling Brothers Circus and saw Gunther Goebel Williams walk a beautiful tiger around a ring to "Walking My Baby Back Home".
The person who came to me 2 weeks after he died, sat on my bed and told me to take care of my mother. So for 51 years, I've tried to do that to the best of my ability.
So, Daddy, it's been a lot of water under the bridge. I don't know if there are perch and walleyes and unfiltered Lucky Strikes in Heaven, but I hope so. Keep the beer cold.