My dad, John Sr., died suddenly last week of a massive heart attack. He was 73. Seven months ago he was the recipient of a kidney transplant. The kidney was from an eight year old boy who died accidentally. Dad and the kidney were getting along just fine. He was becoming his old self again.
Dad had sold his business of 40 years to my two younger brothers, but he still worked with them every day so he could tell them what to do.
My dad was a hard working Christian man. He was trusted, loved and admired by all who new him. His funeral service drew several hundred people. I am 49 years old and am the oldest of three sons. When I was 13 I started working with Dad on Saturdays and sometimes after school. By the time my third year of college rolled around I wanted something different. At least I thought I did. I remember distinctly the day I informed him of my plans to begin working for a men's clothing store just down the street. My reasoning was that it was more cool to sell Levi's and suits than it was to wash and service cars. I remember him telling me that if that was what I wanted, then he would wish me luck and support me 100%.
Years later, I wound up back with Dad at his service station, but only temporarily. I eventually acquired a very good position with a public utility company. I became successful and I visited my Dad and brothers at the station, but not very often. It took me years to realize what I had done to my Dad. He would work from dawn until dark at that business and he was teaching me how to become a businessman like him. He taught me how to speak politely to people, how to show every customer how much we appreciated their business. I watched him as he would compliment an elderly lady customer on how young she looked. He would allow people to unload their problems and worries to him and have them smiling as they went on their way.
So many people went far out of their way to come and do business with MY DAD, not because he had better gasoline, or the lowest prices for services, but because they knew he would do everything he could to ensure they were treated fairly and honestly.
Dad was grooming me. As the oldest son and his namesake, I know now that it hurt him when I turned my back on him. He never said it. He never showed it. I feel guilt because of this and now I have no way of making it disappear.
Dad never complained about anything, even after his kidneys failed and would undergo dialysis three times a week for three years. In my eyes my Dad was a great man, and I loved him very much. Did I tell him? No. Men don't tell their fathers about emotional stuff like that, right? We're too tough and macho. I can tell you this, that I don't feel tough and macho now when I think of my Dad and tears well up in my eyes like right now.
I know in my heart that Dad is in Heaven now as his reward for being such a wonderful, loving person. I tell Dad now every chance I get, just how much I miss him and still love him. But, I would give anything in the world just to see him smile one more time and to hug him and tell that his 49 year old little boy is dying inside because his Dad is gone.
John Kropog, Jr.