Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father’s Day without Dad

Today is my first Father’s Day without my dad, who passed away on June 6.
He was a great father and set a high standard for me as a father myself.
It was nice to share stories about Dad with my siblings during the days leading up to his funeral service in suburban Chicago. It’s the little things that make up our memories of him, not the obituary highlights (Army veteran, research pharmacist, etc.)
He had a weekday routine. He would get up early for work, have a cup of coffee, read the newspaper and listen to WBBM AM news radio. If he needed to get us kids out of bed in the morning, he’d come in to our bedroom and say, “Up and at ’em.”
After work, he liked to go for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Before dinner, he’d often ask Mom if she wanted to “split a beer.” (Dad didn’t drink much.)
At the dinner table, he’d ask how everyone’s day was and lead some spirited discussions. He would get an encyclopedia to settle disputed facts or a dictionary to get the definition of words.
After the evening chores were done, he’d settle into the couch to read a book and later watch the 10 p.m. news and “The Tonight Show.” He frequently fell asleep on the sofa. He’d wake up later and head upstairs to bed.
He was a Green Bay Packers fan, sticking to his Wisconsin roots even as he was surrounded by Chicago Bears fans in Illinois. He liked the Chicago White Sox, but could enjoy himself watching practically any baseball game. He enjoyed filling in a scorecard when we went to the ballpark.
He’d take the family on an annual outing to the Arlington Park race track to watch thoroughbred horse racing. He studied the racing programs and newspaper reports to make calculated bets. He usually came home a winner, while the rest of us lost money.
Dad had an analytical mind and took a scientific approach to many pursuits, such as investing. He was a classic value stock investor. He liked to chart stock performance by hand on graph paper in three-ring binders.
Dad was a humble man. His children didn’t know he was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in the Korean War until they began researching his obituary.
He was also a deeply religious man too. A devoted Catholic, he could still recite the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” prayers a week before his death, even though Alzheimer’s had robbed him of most of his memory.
I miss him, but am comforted by the belief that we will meet again in heaven.

Photo: My dad, James A. Seitz, celebrates his 87th birthday in January.

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