Okay, I'm ready.
Warning: I'm on some serious cold medicine...this may or may not make sense)
Dad was born on July 11, 1938 to my grandparents Oscar and Ruth Kailholz. He was the middle child in a family of five kids.
They lived on a working farm in Western Hills, a suburb of Cincinnati. Nowadays, it's all shopping plazas and pizza joints and medical buildings, but in 1938, it was small and intimate and pretty rural.
The farm had pigs, cows, my grandfather's homing pigeons and crops like corn and veggies.
My dad had chores to do before school every day. He only wore shoes during the school year, and would be barefoot all summer (best to save money for shoes during school time).
What they had, they worked for. What they didn't have, they did without.
Dad went to West High, but didn't graduate. He got a GED at night school, before joining the Army. He was stationed in Korea right after the Korean War, and just before the Vietnam War. He had a photo album of photos he took and developed while stationed there (he wanted to be a photographer). He made the mistake of telling my brother and me that to get out of unpleasant duty, he would go get a haircut for a quarter. (We used that against him more than once!)
He met Mom (Alice Eileen Vieth) around 1964, but they didn't get married until 1969, 6 months before my brother Steve was born. Ahem.
They lived in Western Hills until Steve was one, then moved to Bright, Indiana. They welcomed me into the family in 1973.
Dad worked his way up at an industrial heating/cooling company until he eventually owned it with a partner. His work ethic: Get it done right. Work hard.
My Dad vowed, after my Mom and he got married, that he would never dance again. I got him to break that promise twice. Once, at the wedding of a friend, while I was still small enough to stand on his shoes, and again at my wedding. We danced to a song called "My Daughter's a Bride".
He was the kind of father who could fix anything and he passed down to me mechanical know-how and the genes to let my brain understand machines, engines. He once saved a family of mourning doves who had been blown out of a tree and made them a new nest from a milk jug. He said that he didn't like cats, but we would catch him talking to and playing with my cats early in the morning when he thought we were all still asleep.
In September 2004, he was diagnosed with leukemia. It was discovered after his blood sugar got out of control (he was a Type II diabetic).
He began chemo in early October.
A month later, he was gone.
Turns out that he had had a mild heart attack in the remote past, which was found as he was getting worked up for the chemo. As far as we can gather, he chose not to deal with any heart issues before starting the chemo, and the doctor respected his wishes, but thought that Dad would make it through the chemo okay.
The night he died, Mom took him to the ER after he started a high fever and didn't feel right. The hospital told Mom to go home and come back in the morning. Just as she was drifting off to sleep, they called and told her to come back immediately.
He was in cardiac trouble when she got there with my brother, and she called me and told me to come right away. This was at 2:20 am. I was out of the house in 3 minutes. Dad died while I was driving to the hospital. At 2:25 am.
I went in to say goodbye, kissed him on the forehead.
I've gone through all the stages of grief, like denial, anger, sorrow...but I am still pissed.
He was 66 years old. Not nearly enough time for us, for him.