Black is the Darkest Color

Let me talk to you about my father.

When I was a child he would work a lot. However, I remember all those Monopoly games with him (which we loved) and all of us hiking in the near woods on Sundays (which we hated). The games and the hikes, both seemed to last forever.

Each summer we would go to Spain for summer vacation. By car and – if my father got to choose – on country roads. That too felt like forever. A 2-day-trip and roughly 1,000 miles. My parents in the front, my sisters and me in the back seats. The journey was the reward. He made us get out of the car with every tractor he discovered on a field. “Now look at this! Isn’t that a John Deere (Claas / Fendt / Massey Fergusen / Mercedes)?!”

He knew how to fix everything everywhere. When going to Spain he would take plenty of tools and equipment to fix the summer cottage my parents had rented.  We would laugh about it and refer to it as “engineering.” However, every year we’d get another cottage and at the end of each summer we left it in very good condition.

My father was such a story teller and the end of each story would vary depending on his audience. At times embarrassing, then funny. Looking back it was lovable.

Being the salesman that he was (selling agricultural machinery) he would always bargain. Always. With a 100 percent of success (that too happened to be embarrassing at times … ).

He was not much of a reader. Not much of a traveller either. His favorite book was an atlas. One would mention a city, a mountain, an area and he would spend hours looking it up, wondering what made people go there in the first place.

When I was a child, every night when he came home he would kiss my sisters and me on the forehead. Later, when we came home as adults, the kiss on the forehead was still a must. While he was still walking, when he sat in the wheel chair, and – finally – in bed at the hospital. It used to be him bending down to us, then it was us bending down to him.

I remember hurrying home when my father had his first heart attack. It was the beginning of what turned out to be a long medical history. For the last 20 years he has been at the hospital at least once a year. It was always serious: heart attacks, stents and bypasses, pulmonary embolism, aneurysma, then dialysis. Followed by amputations, his heart becoming too weak, pleural effusion.

My father went through and survived countless surgeries. He was born on a Sunday. He always thought of himself as a lucky fellow.

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace;
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go;
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for its living;
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

He died on Valentine’s Day. A tractor took him to the churchyard. A red Massey Ferguson.


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