You know it’s going to be bad news when your Mom calls and says, “Come over. Right now,” and it’s late. When you walk in your childhood home and see State Troopers at the kitchen table, that’s a sure sign that it’s not going to be good.
Still, you hope that maybe it’s only going to be somewhat bad.
On Friday night, June 9, it was as bad as it gets. My father Bob Allison topped a hill near the state line. Traffic was at a standstill. He couldn’t stop. He rear-ended a transfer truck. Dad was airlifted to Baptist hospital. It was too late. He was gone.
I’m the oldest of the siblings, and I live closest to my parents. I just went into autopilot and began making the calls and doing the things that must be done when someone in the family passes.
Telling my boys was the hardest. Caleb and Eli adored their Granddad. He taught them to fish and worked with them on Scout projects. He was going to go to Dan Nicholas Park this weekend to help with Eli’s Eagle project giving animal tours, and he had been helping Caleb get plans together to build a picnic shelter at Cleveland Methodist Church. The guys were planning to go fishing for a couple of days right after Father’s Day. They were really looking forward to that trip.
When I looked at my sister, Katrena’s girls, I kept thinking, “They will not grow up with the joy of having Granddad around.” Dad adored his granddaughters. I hope they will remember, but they are only 4 yrs (Hannah) and 2 yrs (Abigail).
My two brothers (Robert and Matthew), Katrena, and I have our memories, but it’s not the same. I’m okay if I stay busy and don’t stop to think about things like, “My Dad will never knock on the door and give us hot bread that he loved to make in the bread machine. He’ll never call to see if we’d like to come over for grilled steak (his specialty). He’ll never drop by to see if I’ll take a picture of his biggest fish yet.”
Then, there’s Mom. She’s never lived alone. She was 17 years old when she married my Dad in 1960. I can only imagine how empty that big house will seem in the days to come. You don’t expect your lifelong spouse who is still chopping wood, mowing the brush at the land in the mountains, and walking to the Post Office daily to be gone in a second.
Dad was very active in the community too. He played the organ at the church, helped with projects, did taxes for seniors at Rufty Holmes. He was always busy giving a hand here and there. Life does go on, but there will be some real gaps left with my Dad not around. The phone would ring often with someone needing help. Dad always went. I hope others will step up, because a lot of people need a helping hand.
Though Dad was mostly a worker, he did enjoy his fishing. He went three times a week or so. He’d look out and say, “Looks like a good day for fishing.” It could look like a gully washer was headed in, but any day was really a good day for fishing as far as he was concerned.
I’m glad the wreck was on the way back from fishing and that Dad got his last casts in before moving on to heaven. I hope God likes fried trout and hush puppies. I guess He must, or He wouldn’t have called my Dad home so soon.
*If you've got a beef with a family member, make peace. Tomorrow may be too late. The death of my dad has been really hard, but I'm so thankful that he left this earth knowing that he was loved. He popped in a day or two before and gave us some strawberries. He knew the door was always open and that he was always welcome.