For those of you who have lost someone close to you, I am sure you can relate. My Dad, nicknamed “Big E” by many, passed away a year and a half ago. I think of him everyday as I put his watch on every morning, and there are many quiet moments when I talk to him. I may be walking, I may be driving, I may be laying in bed, who knows. Sometimes, it just comes out. Big E was my go-to guy for everything. He had the ability to just listen to whatever you had to say, and he made the time to listen. Good or bad, happy or sad, easy or hard, brief or long, he would listen, then he would offer his unique opinion. A lot of times, it may not have been exactly what you wanted to hear, but it was always honest. And, no matter if he agreed or disagreed, you always felt better after talking to him. Always.
As long as I can remember, Big E was my vent, and he took it all in stride. No topics were off limits, and he was there, day or night. Big E and Nance, my mom, were married for 45 years, had 5 kids, and really built an amazing life together. Big E ended up owning the business, Ralph’s Discount in downtown Pittsburgh, that he started working at after high school, and he knew EVERYBODY in the city. From the judges and lawyers and cops and CEOs all the way to the parking attendants and panhandlers on Fifth Avenue, he knew them all, and they all knew him. He was a big guy with a bigger personality, and a unique trait to make whomever he was talking to feel like the most important person in the world.
After a true rags to riches story, putting all five kids through Penn State, Big E called me and said he had a brain tumor. He was 55 at the time. The world changed that day for all of us. Two brain surgeries later, a plethora of other health ailments slowed him down over the next ten years. All of the kids left Pittsburgh for other opportunities, and Nance was left alone to take care of him. It was a full time job, and, after a long time, she needed help.
With the blessing of my dear wife and two young daughters, we made the decision to move them to Las Vegas to live with us until we could figure out the next move. That turned out to be a challenging, trying year to say the least, but it was one of the best years of my life. My kids got to see and do it all with my parents, and memories were made that will last a lifetime. I know it could not have been done without my wife, and I will forever be eternally grateful to her for everything that she did for all of us.
Recently, I have been talking about things my Dad said or did with a bunch of people. I even just spoke to one of his childhood friends who he lovingly referred to as “Coc-a-roach”, and we spent a wonderful 15 minutes reminiscing about Big E and catching up. Needless to say, Big E has been on my mind lately, and I wanted to share a story about his time here in the desert with us. Life just goes by so fast, and with the blog growing each week, I wanted to share a real moment in time with everyone.
Below is an email that I sent to my siblings and close friends summarizing the first week of Big E and Nance living with us. I know it put a smile on my face after I read it, and I hope it does the same for you. What I would give for just another day with Big E.
So, first of all, I asked each one of my siblings to please take a minute and call my home number or mom’s cell number yesterday, even if it’s for less than 5 minutes, and surprising enough, nobody called. Even a couple texts back and forth will do. Please at some point in the next 24 hours, Mom should hear from each one of you, even if it’s for 3 minutes. “And that’s all I have to say about that.”
The Tina experiment went as well as it could go. She came over and gave Dad a shower, complete with an above average “ball washing”, as he likes to refer to a female stranger cleaning his testicles. She shaved his face, washed him, put some moisturizer on along with deodorant and aftershave, and got him dressed, all of which occurred while I was still at work. I came home and he looked and smelled fresh, and he was feeling good enough to describe the whole thing as “tremendous.” This is going to occur as frequently as possible, as long as we can fit it into Tina’s schedule and we can afford to pay her.
After Jess, Nance and Kelsey went to get dinner at Panda, they came back and all ate dinner while I napped on the couch. After the kids said goodnight, I woke up and hung out with Mom, Dad and Jess. Then, when we tried to get Mom’s netbook working, we could not get it signed on to our wireless network in the house. Jess called Cox and got a rep who tried to get her through it. Nance punched out close to midnight and went to bed. Dad fell asleep in the chair with his feet up on the ottoman. I patiently waited on the couch while Jess talked to one guy who, after an hour and every possible troubleshooting thought, said “that’s it, I am transferring you to level 2.” Who the hell even knew there was a level 2?
That was it for me. I then passed out on the couch. After another F@#^*#* hour on the phone, the level 2 guy must have said “it’s the macafee security firewall, it’s too good, you have to call them” and that was it. Jess was tired, frustrated and with no solution, a bit ticked off. I was then hurriedly woken up and told “let’s get Dad to bed, now.”
So, we wake him up and say let’s get in bed. His first question is “you mean I am not in my bed?” No, Dad, let’s go. OK, so we get him up and as he starts to head to the bed, he says “I should piss before I get in bed.” We agree, and off we go to the bathroom. For those of you who have been here or seen it on Skype, it’s 10, maybe 12 steps. Now, close your eyes and imagine doing it in frame by frame slow motion. Yep, it takes a couple minutes.
Anyways, he gets there while Jess and I are at the entranceway to the family room/kitchen area, and we hear a mini “boom.” Jess says to me “is he alright?” Without using my Superman x-ray vision to look through the walls, I speed over to the bathroom to find Dad sitting on the toilet in what appears to be a successful, normal fashion. At least as normal as a big guy sitting on that little toilet can look.
“You ok?” I ask him.
“Yep. just sitting on the toilet”, he replies. Apparently, when he goes to “sit” on the toilet, it’s more like a hover, line it up and lean back til you hit the target. The process is not exactly sitting, and upon impact, it tends to make a bit of noise. Otherwise, it’s fine.
Then, with me standing in front of him in the bathroom, he says “uh oh” like a kid does when he/she is 2. We all know that “uh oh”
I swear at that moment, time stood still. I froze up. “uh oh” What the hell does that mean? what is uh oh right now?
Before I could actually say anything, Dad comes with “my dick is not all the way in the toilet.” And then the bathroom becomes like the fountain at the point in Pittsburgh, only with the force of Hurricane Katrina. Seriously, the man can piss like we do when we hold it for, say, like a day or two.
I jumped back as fast as I could, and after getting hit with it like one does from an outside mister on a hot summer day in the desert, my dear wife Jessica comes with this gem. “Is he pissing?”
You all know I love my wife dearly. Right then, a million things were coming at me, and all I could come up with was “yep. A lot. And all over.” LOL. I head over to the foot of his bed to find another pair of shorts for him when Jess, with all seriousness asks, “Did he get it on his shorts too?”
I patiently try to gather myself and turn to look at her. My reply came in the form of question. “Are you seriously asking me this question? No, he peed all over the toilet, the floor, me, etc, but amazingly, his shorts are perfectly dry.” She laughs, I laugh, and Elliott laughs. Hey, at least we were laughing.
Finally, with the help of rubber gloves, paper towels, clorox wipes, etc, the cleanup goes pretty smooth. I am a big fan of rubber gloves, and I swear I would bathe in hand sanitizer if I could. The last thing to do is get Big E in his bed with a new diaper and pair of shorts. As both Nance and Jess like to say, “that’s all you.” Here is how this process goes.
I get down on one knee directly in front of Dad, who is wearing only a t-shirt. He puts his hands on my shoulders for support as he lifts each foot, and I guide his feet into the diaper. Needless to say, it’s the closest I can ever remember being to another man’s genitals in my life. Kinda gives you a whole new perspective. On second thought, that’s the LEAST it does.
Anyways, as I pull the diaper up and get on my feet in light speed, I hit Jessica with a gem of my own. “Go get something to put down there to keep it fresh.” I swear, that is exactly what I said. LOL.
“Like what?” she asked.
“I don’t know. Anything. Just go find something.”
A quick trip up the stairs and back down, and I will give you one guess what she is holding…yep, you guessed it…Ammon’s powder. Why not?
I don’t have a powder puff so with Dad standing in the doorway of the bathroom and his diaper up to his knees only, I lean back down below the belt, still wearing the rubber gloves. Now that we all have kids and have done diaper duty, you know how to powder the kid, especially after they drop a bomb in the Pamper. Spare no powder, cover it all and load up the diaper. I don’t know about you, but there were times when my daughters would sit down after a diaper change and it looked like an early morning dusting of snow in December in Pittsburgh.
A spur of the moment decision is made to load up the diaper with powder. With Jess standing behind me, and me down on one knee, and Dad just kind of “hanging out” right there, I think to myself “load it up”. This is how goofy I am. I am actually having this conversation in my head while I am less than a foot from the nether region. But, even with the rubber gloves, I can’t juggle the nut sack, I just can’t do it. Instead, I shake the powder up and “graze” the right testicle. Not hard, not easy, but definitely suddenly and clearly unexpectedly.
I will leave you with this. Dad may not have feeling in two of his fingers, and his legs and feet are questionable at best, but he still has feeling in a lot of areas. I think the last time he actually jumped off the ground was back in the 80s, but I swear I saw air under his feet, even for just a second. When we laid him down in bed, we got him all propped up and aligned the bed like he likes it.
I say “You ok? You need anything else?”
His reply “Nope, I am good. But, Dave, geez, I didn’t know you were going to touch my balls…next time, just do it a little easier.”
WTF????? NEXT TIME???? WAIT???? WHAT???? THERE AINT GONNA BE NO REMATCH!!!!
And that is why I am up writing this and watching him sleep. LOL. Have a good day. And stay tuned for more updates from the nuthouse. (end of email)