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Christopher Walrath

Today was a good day.

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by , 01-01-2011 at 08:39 PM (909 Views)
My Daddy turned 68 today. He was born on a military base in southern Texas along the Gulf, don't recall where exactly. Grandpa was in the Army.

Dad played football in high school with Mike Gottfried at Crestline High in Ohio. He joined the Navy and served on the USS Orion (AS18) from 61 to 65 after graduating from the GL Naval Training Center. He became a machinist and met my Mom at a kegger at Kent State in 68, the year after she graduated from high school. They got married and had me in 70. Dad lost his job when the steel mills went down and we relocated to Delaware. Life has been good.

Our family is big on birthdays. Everyone comes over. The birthday person gets their last meal of choice. We blow out the candles. Get a couple of cards and gifts. So, today, January 1, was Dad's day. We were watching Wisconsin and TCU in the Rose Bowl. Dad would ask a question and get an answer. A few minutes later he would ask the question again. This happens.

See, my Dad has White Matter Disease. This is where one by one cerebral cappilaries just close, pinched shut. It's like a slew of mini strokes, most completely not noticeable. But little by little over the last six years he is just less himself. Sometimes he has a tough time with a name. I always announce our arrival like a fool, speaking our names. Of course, I don't know if he needs the reminder but I don't mind looking the fool so he doesn't have to.

I love my Dad. And I look back to how he was last year at this time and there has been a huge difference. And not to the good. I am not looking forward to next year. It's kind of like he has slid off the shoulder of an H&D curve and is now sliding down the straight line portion. I don't know where the toe is but it is closer than it was.

My Dad took me to a campout that I won a scholarship for because I designed the patch they used (church group like Boy Scouts named Royal Rangers). I was sick and could not spend the Eastern Ohio cool nights of late-September in the cold. But he took me the first night and we stayed through the council fire.

Dad used to put Ron, myself and all of our friends in the family station wagon and we would drive the hour east to catch a Pirates game back when Willie Stargell was winding down his career. I actually got to meet him after a game when he and Jason Thompson were doing an interview after a game.

TODAY WAS A GOOD DAY. I love my Pop. I like to think that I have become a man that he is proud of. I know he will not be with us forever. But these days are so much more precious than they were a year ago. It seems like barely an hour, though. Time slips by so fast that we have to take the time to stoop and smell those stinking roses. Because they will be gone in the morning.
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