First, I want to say that while I have been reading this thread from the start, it has been difficult for me to get to the point where I felt like writing something.
First of all, the timing of this thread is fortuitous for me, as the one year anniversary of my Dad's passing is coming up on Dec 2nd. While I am in a much better place than I was in 11 months ago, I am finding that, with the anniversary approaching, I am thinking of him more and more. I suppose that this is a natural thing, but it is not something that I was prepared for.
The last few years of Dad's life were not easy by any means. He averaged three hospital stays a year from 2006 onwards, and between the hospital stays and rehab facilities afterward, each stay ran about a month or so.
He maintained his rather....unique sense of humor up until almost the end. He'd crack a one liner or bad pun just to watch you groan. I was recently reminded also that he kept very much abreast of what was happening at his alma mater (and would pass their sports scores on to anyone interested).
And, lest I paint a rose colored picture of the man, he had his paults too. he could be extremely manipulative and self centered, especially with my mother. There was only one way of doing something, his way. It didn't matter if it was right or wrong or if there were 4,000 different ways of doing something. If it wasn't his way, it was wrong.
I'd like to share just one more quick little story. In 2008, he asked me to take him to his brother's third wedding. When he told me the name of the town, I agreed with one condition. There is a small, but well regarded railroad museum in this town with a rather unique fund-raising idea. For a set fee, they would rent you a locomotive, complete with the crew, and allow you to operate it with supervision. I told dad that if we went, we would have to spend a day at this museum and I would "rent" a locomotive.
Since Dad was restricted to a wheelchair, I set things up for myself to be the only one of us on the locomotive. On the morning after the wedding, we arrived at the museum a couple of hours before my appointed time in order to tour the facility. Since the facilities parking area is gravel, we had a difficult time maneuvering Dad's wheelchair up to the building. After we got to the building, I went back to the car for something. Meanwhile, one of the museum's volunteer's had seen Dad in the wheelchair, and brought a gof cart to him. She then proceeded to give us a guided tour of the museum. When the time came for me to board the locomotive, she called her husband over, and between the engineer, the tour guide, her husband, and myself we managed to get Dad onto the locomotive. Then we took a couple of pictures.
Afterward, when I had the pictures developed, I took four of the photos down and had them framed and matted for him for Christmas. when he opened them on Christmas day, my mother took one look at them and promptly told me that she had only seen that look on his face once....when the doctor had handed him my youngest brother in the delivery room.