Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ten Years Later - We Still Miss You Dad

As we journey through life we build up anniversaries of things that have happened to us or affected us.  For me, I seem to remember anniversaries of just about everything because I am very good with remembering dates.  If you were to give me a date I can pretty much tell you what I was doing on that day.  I am not 100% accurate or precise, but I have a high-level idea of where I was (which is a big deal since I used to travel so much for work), what kind of work I was doing for my company and what was going on in the lives of Patty and Zack.  In general, I just have a thing for remembering what happened on what date - it is weird but it is who I am.

I mention the topics of anniversaries because today is one of those anniversaries.  Today is the 10th anniversary of my father's death.  He died early in the morning of February 9, 2002.  Unlike when my Mom died I was not there with my father when he passed away.

My Dad was eighty-six when he died.  Because of his age and issues with his heart, he was on the blood thinner Warfarin.  Additionally, he had other issues that made him susceptible to gastrointestinal bleeding.  Sometime during the day of  January 15, 2002 he started to have some GI bleeding from his stomach.  Since he was on the blood thinner, this meant it would be very difficult for the bleeding to stop without some kind of medical intervention.  So he went to the hospital to be treated for this issue.

To stop the bleeding he had to undergo a GI procedure that would allow a surgeon to go in and cauterize the area of this stomach that was bleeding.  The procedure was pretty much an endoscopy except with an instrument that would allow the surgeon to stop the bleeding. One of the stated risks associated with a procedure like that is that the patient's stomach could be punctured.  As the procedure was ending and the surgeon was withdrawing the instrument, that is exactly what happened - he punctured my father's stomach.  This is a bad thing to have happen even if you are young and health.  If you are old and not in good health this is pretty much a catastrophe.  Once this happened, the surgeon had no choice but to cut my Dad open and fix the puncture he made.  To a large degree however the damage was already done because of all the trauma that had occurred and the fact that my father's abdominal cavity had been infected with content from his GI tract.  All-in-all, it was a really, really bad thing to have happen.

Despite all of that, my Dad managed to hang on for another 24 days.  He was in the ICU for that entire time but he showed a lot of strength and determination to make it through this horrible situation.  I don't remember if he was kept in an induced coma or whether he just never regained consciousness after the surgery.  Regardless he was not awake at all during this time.

When all of this went down I was working for a client in California.  So instead of flying home to Denver for the weekend, I took off a day earlier and flew to Pennsylvania to be there with the rest of my family.  As the next week approached I made arrangements so that I could be in Pennsylvania for a longer period of time.  That Sunday I flew back to California and arranged things with work so that I could leave mid-week, fly to Denver and then get Patty, Zack and the dogs and drive to Pennsylvania as I had no idea how long the situation was going to go.  On top of that Patty and I had been talking that she wanted to spend a good chunk of time in Pittsburgh visiting with her parents.  So it made for a good situation - by driving our car out there Patty would have our car and it also allowed up to take our dogs with us.

Then after spending 3+ straight weeks away from home I really needed to go to Denver for a weekend and check on the house and make sure everything was alright.  So the weekend of February 9th I flew from San Jose to Denver and was going to spend the weekend around the house taking care of things.  I had arrived home late on the evening of February 8th.  When the phone rang the next morning around 6:30AM, I knew exactly what the phone call was about - my Dad had passed away a short time before.  I wasn't there with him when he died.  I do wish I could have been there with him as I think being with someone when they die is a very special thing for both the person leaving this world and for those who will go on in this world.

It has now been 10 years since he died - what should I say about my Dad?  First I guess I should write just a little bit more about who he was.  His name was Paul Frederick Kromer and he was born on May 1, 1915 in the small town of Aspinwall, Pennsylvania.  Like many births at that time, he was born in his parents house.  The doctor had been called for but my grandparents lived half way up a very steep hill and the doctor lived down along the river at the base of the hill.  So by the time the doctor got there my Dad had already entered this world.

For the times my father's family was relatively well off.  His father, Wilhelm Frederick Kromer has immigrated from Germany in 1903 for a job in Pittsburgh with the HK Porter Steam Locomotive Company.  Over time my grandfather rose through the ranks to become the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Company with the corresponding pay that went with a job like that.  Even during the depression, my father's family did relatively well and didn't experience any significant downturn in their fortunes.  After graduating from Aspinwall High School my Dad went onto to study (History - I believe) at the University of Pittsburgh.  While there he played in the school's marching band and was a member of ROTC.  At the conclusion of college he went on to study at the University of Iowa for a master's degree in Political Science.  Somewhere along the line he was also called to active duty in the US Army as a Second Lieutenant.  Fortunately for his family he didn't last long in the army as he was discharged due to a medical condition.  They didn't have the technology for it then but in later years it was found that he had a hole in one of the chambers of his heart.  This caused all kinds of issues for him throughout his life.  But back in 1940 this medical issue kept him from being shipped off to the Philippines to be part of the American military force there.  Had he gone to the Philippines in 1940 in all likelihood I won't exist as the vast majority of those soldiers who were part of that army task force were captured by the Japanese when the Philippines fell in early 1942.  And we all know what happened to them - The Bataan Death March.  So though I am sure it didn't feel good to my Dad to be discharged from the Army at that time of national crisis when all his buddies were serving it at least kept him alive.

(My Dad in his early years - most likely before high school.)

(My Dad's college graduation picture)

(My Dad at our home in Norvelt, Pennsylvania.  He is holding my oldest brother Paul in this picture.)

(My Dad teaching one of his classes at Seton Hill College.)

(My Dad with my Mom - I think shortly after they met.)

(My Dad on his 80th birthday - May 1, 1995)

During the war he worked at variety of different jobs.  He taught at this university or that university.  When school wasn't in session he spent time working in the steel mills of Pittsburgh doing quality assurance on the steel and other metals that produced for the war effort.  Before the end of the war he landed a full time teaching job at a little Catholic Women's College by the name of Seton Hill in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.  Once he got that job, it was the job he held for the rest of his life until his retirement in 1981.

My Dad didn't marry until he was forty-one years old in 1956.  My parents waited another 2 years until they had their first child - my oldest brother Paul.  After that they had 3 more kids in the next 4 years.  Then they waited until 4 years until I appeared on the scene in 1966.

I did love my father though there were plenty of times he which he and I strongly disagreed about things.  In retrospect the things that we disagreed about are pretty darn silly now, but back then neither of us could see that it was silly.  We both held our ground and of course this caused for some great amounts of hurt and pain to evolve between us.  As the youngest in the family however, I think my relationship with my Dad was pretty good.

After my mom passed away in 1999 I tried to make it a habit to talk to him every day.  Some days the conversations were difficult as he did have a little trouble remembering things and he could be cranky as all heck.  Regardless I also think all those conversations were special.  I used many of the conversations to come to understand about his life and the things he had done and accomplished.  It is difficult to realize that he has been gone for 10 years now.  I have a hard time comprehending that.  I think the good thing about 10 years having passed is that my thoughts about my Dad are much more positive.  The difficulties and arguments we had when I was a teenager and a twenty something are now long in the past.  Instead of thinking of those things when I remember him, I now think about all the positive things I learned from him and all the good things that he did.

Even 10 years on you're still missed Dad.  As I have aged since your passing I have come to appreciate many of the things that you taught me.  I am glad you were my Dad.

It is hard to believe it is already Thursday!  I can't believe how quickly the weeks are flying by.  It seems like it was just yesterday that we were celebrating New Years and now one entire month of the new year is already complete and we are already 1/3 of the way through February!

As the days have passed since the surgery on my back the pain has been playing a game with me.  There have been days like Saturday and Sunday in which there has been no pain.  Unfortunately for the last 2 days I have had extensive amounts of pain.  Unless I take the Advil and my pain pills every 3 - 4 hours I am feeling as much pain as I felt before the surgery.  Bottom line is that this stinks.  My next scheduled appointment with the surgeon is for next Tuesday so I am hoping to have some answers at that point.  I talked his PA today and they are having me get another MRI on Tuesday before the appointment. My gut is telling me that I will have to undergo another round of surgery.  I don't know if I have continued to bleed into the my spinal column or if there is still some piece of the disc that is floating around in there.  Regardless if I have to undergo another round of surgery that will really stink!!

Zack has continued to amaze me and his teachers at school.  It is like he is finally "getting it".  Don't get me wrong he is by far not perfect, but the amount of improvement that he has experienced since he went on the new medication is pretty profound.  We are still working on anxiety issues before school and right when he goes to bed, but it is as if all other anxiety has disappeared from him.  He never ceases to amaze me - in a very positive way.

Today I had the first meeting with the designer who I have selected to design the kitchen.  She came and did measurements of everything and we had a conversation about how I wanted the layout to look.  The layout is going to be a radical departure from the way the kitchen currently looks.  With this new layout, I think that the space will be better utilized and it will make for a great room in which to entertain and hang out.  Getting this work done will really allow me so much flexibility in terms of what I want to do.  The remodel will make the house look better and sell quicker if I go that route.  Which is the route that I am thinking at this time - however I have to figure out the timing of that because I want Zack to be able to finish middle school at West.  If I decide to stay in the house, it is going to make things so much nicer I can't begin to tell you!  Based upon our discussions this afternoon, it looks like they will be able to begin demolition in early April.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that I was starting to track from what countries this blog was read.  As of today, people in 66 different countries have read the blog since the middle of January.  Late last night I even got a hit from Vientiane.  Any one care to guess what country Vientiane is the capital of? Ok - I won't keep you all in suspense. LOL!  It is the capital of Laos.  I mean there are some countries that are off the beaten track, but then there are countries like Laos.  That is really off the beaten track!!!  The Internet is truly global, but that is one country I won't have suspected to ever get a hit from.

Not much else going on in our world.  Both Zack and I are looking forward to tomorrow (Friday) night as we are going to see the Cirque du Soleil show Dralion at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield.  I absolutely love Cirque du Soleil shows.  Two summers ago when my friend Ruben and I went to Las Vegas, I saw 4 of the 8 Cirque du Soleit shows that are performed in Las Vegas.  (Ruben on the other hand saw all of them except for one!  Yes - he is a Cirque fanatic!) So that will be great time for both Zack and me.

I thought I was done with this post when I spied a story on MSNBC.  I just read that Beyonce and Jay-Z have filed paper work to trademark their baby's name.  That makes me want to vomit.  Let your child be a kid.  Hell - let your child be a baby.  Their daughter was only born 3 weeks ago and they are already thinking about trademarking their kid's name!!  How can they do that?  Are you so concerned about money that you need to trademark your kid's name???  Literally this makes me nauseated.  Oh and by the way - what is the baby's name?  Blue Ivy.  Did they come up with that name so that they can create a line of kid's clothing called that?  Pathetic!!

That's it for this Thursday evening!  I hope everyone has had a great day and is looking forward to the weekend ahead.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


LISA said...


It's funny, much like you I do the same thing with dates. It's so amazing how 10 years can feel like days or a lifetime. I lost my mother 14 years ago and sometimes I feel like I just saw her and sometimes it feels like forever. Either way, it does not dim the ache.

Your dad looks like a nice man. A man who waits so long to get married and have a family tends to appreciate it all more and it sounds like it was that way with your father. I have posted to you before and have told you how my husband was widowed at 32 and then created a whole new life with me. My husband is from Pittsburgh also. I was so surprised to see that so were you and Patty. You and my husband seem to have many similarities in your lives.

It took us a while to work out the kinks as he had lots of baggage after losing his wife and also I found it hard to date a widower. I wonder if that was some of the problem with you and Shelley. My husband felt guilty starting a whole new life when his wife died at 29 and I felt it was too hard to share our lives with her ghost. I am not trying to get too personal but it is clear how much you love Shelley and it is equally clear watching from the stadium seats that she loves you too. She would not have been there for your last surgery if she still did not care.

What I wish I could say to her is what I have learned. A guy that loved his wife so much and took such great care of her is a special man. He will love you with the same intensity and care for you with the same tenderness. Shelley, I really hope you read this. I am celebrating my 20th anniversary, have 2 amazing kids, cats. dogs and anything a girl could ask for. I bet you could too. People make mistakes, even huge ones but that is how they grow.

I hope somehow Shelley reconsiders. WHile I don't know you, I see what a caring dad, son in law and person you are. I wish you all the best and really hope things work out.

Even though you don't know me, I am signing my name as you have requested. :)

Lisa in NJ

Lisa said...

Looking for an update. Hope no news is good news and that you are doing well.