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Safe Travels Pa, We'll Bring the Snacks

My fishing calendar app said tonight was supposed to be one of the best fishing nights of the season for our area, but I didn't catch a damn thing. Just as well, I needed to spend some time gazing at calm waters, doing some reflecting of my own. One of God's favorite angels received his wings today. My wife's father, Antal Gacs, died this afternoon after a vigilant, but ultimately futile battle against cancer.




Pa, to those who knew him best, was 83 years old. He passed in the same manner as he lived, peacefully and with grace. A man of faith and a devoted family man, Pa served his country in the army. Even during his retirement years Pa worked hard and played hard. Generous to a fault, I'm not sure what that means, but he never let me pick up the tab for lunch, not once. Pa was very competitive. We used to play cards regularly, I think I only beat him at rummy one time. I asked my wife, "did he just let me win?"

"Pa never lets anyone win," Natalie said.

Pa doesn't have a Facebook page, Twitter account, or blog. If you search for him on Google, it's unlikely you will find much of anything. Oh, his obituary will mention when he was born, that he was a first generation immigrant from Hungary, and that he is survived by his wife, children, and grandchildren. Here's what the obituary won't tell you. He is one of the world's best racing pigeon trainers. His birds have won races all over the globe. His trophies and awards are too numerous to count. Handy with tools, Pa built a successful career learning how to make and fix things, a tool and die maker.


Pa's obituary won't tell you about the genuineness of his heart. Several years ago, Natalie and I decided to blend our families, with Pa's permission, of course. He didn't have to accept me into the family, but he did. I didn't know him as long, or as well, as some, but I'd like to think I was someone special in his life, at least that's the way he made me feel. More importantly, he treated my sons as though they were long-standing members of his "good-guy club." 

A man of few words, he reminded me of my grandfather, salt of the earth, a man's man, wholesome goodness. I think Pa enjoyed fishing for the same reasons I did, time to unplug, relax, and reflect on life's blessings. He enjoyed watching sports on TV, challenging his mind with Sudoku puzzles, and warming his face in the sun. Always acting younger than his years, he thoroughly enjoyed playing alongside his grandchildren. He was a big kid at heart.

I respect the amazing things modern medicine can provide to the ailing. However, Pa's passing was a vivid demonstration of personal choice leading to a peaceful, dignified end. After a couple of surgeries, many therapeutic treatments, and several trips to the hospital, enough was enough, Pa wanted to go home to take a nap. Granted, many cannot choose the ending of their life stories, For those who can, it's important for family, friends, and the medical team to support their wishes. 

Webster tells us the word "humane" describes a tenderness, compassion, and sympathy for people and animals, particularly for the suffering or distressed. What will you do when it's time to act humanely?

Just before three o'clock, with his pigeons cooing in the backyard loft, Pa flapped his wings towards heaven while family stood in admiration by his side.

Certainly, there is sadness because we will miss him, but it's a relief knowing Pa's pain and discomfort are over. He was able to write the final chapter of his life story, and I believe this contributed significantly to a peaceful, timely end. Free to choose; how fortunate would we be to follow his example? 

Safe travels Pa, we love you, and we'll see you in the next life. You set out the playing cards, we'll bring the snacks, a few friends, and some ice-cold Diet Coke.

Pa Gacs Photo Montage (10:00)

Comments

Joy Kirr said…
Very sweet, Bob. Thank you for letting us know Pa a bit.
Robert Schuetz said…
Thank you, Joy - it's not easy losing someone you care about, but maybe we can learn from the way they lived, until their last impressionable moments. I hope all is well with you - let's catch up soon.
Bob

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