My dad was living his last few hours lying in a hospital bed in Atlanta. He had not suffered. He had not wished he had more time, nor did he lament how he could have done something better. Dad wasn’t perfect, but he was perfectly human to me.
If you believe that opposites attract, then my parents were the poster children of that belief. My brother and I would often look at one another and simply say, “Uh?”
Dad was a lover of people; opinionated, emotional, funny and never sat still. Mom was quieter, listened to opinions from everyone, not emotional and loved to sit still and read a book.
She was her class valedictorian at age 15. Dad couldn’t spell “cat,” and Lord knows how old he was when he graduated.
The oddity is that my mother never had to work, because Dad’s smarts weren’t listed in a library book, but rather in the book of common sense.
Elizabeth and Ray Walker stayed attracted to the opposite in each other for over 60 years.
In the quiet of that hospital room with only the humming of a monitor, Dad whispered to me as I leaned over to him, “Lynn, I sure hate to leave you alone.”
“Daddy, Mom’s here, the kids are here, I am not alone.”
“Yes, but I was hoping you might find someone to be with you and help you through life,” he said as a tear fell across his cheek.
“Now dad, you know I am not good at the ‘man’ thing. I have learned to do everything pretty much on my own. I am not worried at all. So, don’t you be.”
I think I even cracked a joke or two about that to ease his pain. I had no idea that he had worried about me being alone for years and years.
I kissed him goodbye, and then he went to his maker without fear in his heart, knowing he had done all he could for us in his 85 years of living.
After we left the hospital, my mom and I went back to their apartment where I quickly turned on every light in every room.
“What are you doing?” Mom said.
“I figure if I turn on all the lights, and Dad doesn’t come back in here and fuss at me for doing so, then I will know he is really gone!”
He was right about leaving the lights on, but frankly, that pet peeve of his drove us all a bit crazy.
Dad loved shined shoes, beautiful cars, great movies, golf and his good buddies.
Four years after my father died, I met David Gendusa. I met him quite by accident. When we met he started talking about as fast as I do. That was quite scary.
He was surprised I could spell his name the first time trying, and I was equally surprised that I could even understand it. He is a New Orleans boy of French and Italian descent. The accent and the over the top energy was making this over the top energy girl … still. Trust me, that is unusual.
We started dating and I remember one day having a fleeting thought that he reminded me of Dad. They were about the same size, so that was probably it.
One night, after we had dinner, I walked out of my kitchen.
“Lynn, don’t forget to turn off the lights!!,” David shouted from the living room. It was my house so I thought that funny.
“Is that a pet peeve of yours?” I asked.
“Drives me crazy,” he frankly stated as he watched a movie on TV.
Months passed, still dating, I noticed some new shoes he was wearing.
“I love those!” I said.
“I love shoes!” he said. I started to get a chill.
Golf clubs were in his garage. “Do you play?” I questioned.
“Just a little, however one day, I would like to play more.”
Car magazines adorned his den. He always loved to read about the newest models coming out.
Awards from his company were hanging in his office. “You must be really smart?” I winked as I glanced at him.
“No, pretty much just common sense,” he calmly answered.
The months turned into years, and we married in 2005.
I had lived alone for 20 years. I really had given up on finding another mate and quite frankly, had gotten to the point that I thought that was the way it was supposed to be.
However, there was a man that left an Atlanta hospital on a cool November day that obviously thought otherwise.
There is no doubt that God and Dad found this one lone person in all the world that would put up with this hard headed Tennessee girl, calm her down and remind her to turn off the lights.
David became an avid golfer, found great buddies he plays and hangs with, and the more I live with him, the more I appreciate that Dad kept looking out for me.
I am a blessed and I know it. The final gift of a father’s love was just simply … Love.
Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former LaGrange resident who currently resides in Roswell.