Friday, May 12, 2006


Billy Bob
Billie Bob, SWMBO’s daddy, 1928-1986.

Lately, I’ve gotten tuned in to the Hebrew calendar - at least, as far as Yahrzeits are concerned. For we observe the anniversary of a loved one’s passing based on the Hebrew date, not the secular/Gregorian calendar date.

And thus, it was almost a surprise to both She Who Must Be Obeyed and me when we recalled this morning that it has been twenty years to the day that we lost her Daddy. His birth certificate read “Billie Bob,” but he was Bill to his friends.

It was a heart attack that carried him off, at all-too-young age of 57. Years of poorly-managed diabetes had rendered his coronary arteries useless, a frail network not much more substantial than a spiderweb.

It was on Elder Daughter’s seventh birthday that we got the call that Bill was ailing. SWMBO hopped the next plane from Atlanta to Beaumont, Texas to be there by his side. When the seriousness of the situation became evident, I flew out there as well, leaving the girls in the care of my parents, who had come down for what had been a happy occasion. Alas.

The next morning, things were rough as we tried to sort through the options. Surgery? Bypass surgery was not as commonplace as it is today, and Bill’s spidery coronary arteries were an argument against it. But it was all we had, so we collectively gave the green light to Mr. Surgeon.

It was not to be.

Bill didn’t make it to the O.R. We were all quickly ushered into a little private waiting room by a gnome-like orderly in a red blazer. The Bad-News Dwarf, we divined him to be, and indeed that is what he was...for it was minutes later that he delivered the bad news. To this day, SWMBO gets the shit-willies whenever she sees a short man in a red blazer.

Twenty years gone, I miss Bill. We all do. I’m sorry he did not see his sons grow to be men, his granddaughters become wonderful young women. He never got to meet his daughter-in-law or his grandson William - his spit ’n’ image.

But there’s a goodly bit of Bill in his three children, and for that I am grateful...for I am married to the eldest of the three, and she is a woman of formidable grace, intelligence, and wit.

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