(This is one of my "journal" writings I do occasionally on here; it doesn't concern anything to do with cars, so apologies in advance and I'll understand if you decide to just move on to another thread. ) (My Pop in 1995 at about 60 years old) Christmas was forever altered for me 10 years ago today, when my dad "Pop" passed on early in the morning that Christmas Day... he had battled cancers in several different parts of his body for the previous decade and it had taken a humble but stout man down, a little at a time. In the end, it had spread so that they had to "scattergun" treatments to attack it, but it became apparent after all those years that it would eventually get the better of him. He suffered from bouts of normal afflictions that we all sometimes get, only more so because of his weakened state - such as pneumonia, which nailed him often. (Now, this is the part of the story that haunts me to this day - I vividly relive these following moments in dreams from time to time to this day) It was just such a case that found him in the ICU for some days before the end, where I had gone to check up on him as was the case so often as to have become almost routine... As the nurses and such scurried around him, making provisions for him to go home, I arrived with my wife - but this time I also had my older sister in tow, too. (She and Pop had some sort of feud going back decades and she lived 5 hours away, so she hadn't managed to come see him in a long time...) Pops' then wife (whom I referred to as my "wicked stepmother" - insert your own reasons why here) was in the room too, but when he saw me, he shooed everyone out of the room and motioned for me to come in. I started to bring my sister with me, but he shook off that notion and pointed for me only, so in I went....alone. He and I had been sparring a bit over something recently too, so I had my own reckoning to deal with as well - as proud as Pop was, he could also also mule stubborn, too. In my usual greeting, I faked like everything was normal and said "hey Pop, you about done milking all this attention?" or something silly and light-hearted like that. I had always LIVED to make my dad laugh since I can remember.... but that was not to be this time. Not so much as a smile crossed his face... Instead, he glared at me with an intensity I'd only rarely seen when I was about to get lit up as a kid - and he motioned me closer, so he could whisper. I instantly knew things were different, sudden...and what we hadn't expected to happen for some time to come was actually happening now - right the fluck NOW. "Hey Pop....are we ok?" I asked sheepishly. He gave me a determined stare, all business - and said "we're fine. Now - listen to me.... make them stop." I stepped back a bit and said "come on Pop, you know the routine - they got to get you all ready to go home and get all the equipment and stuff ready to go." I was hoping that he was just fussing about all the bother.... He wasn't. Again, slower and more intensely he says it again while boring a hole in me with his stare: "make.....them....STOP." Awww dammit, Pop. Dammit all to hell.... I silently nod that I understood his request and when any of the others tried to go in to the room, I stopped them as I came out the door. Evil stepmother tried to push her way past and although I had let her have her way a hundred times before with Pop, that wasn't happening right then. I looked her dead in the eye while she squirmed like a petulent child in my hands and said "he's done. Leave him be." I came out of there, told my sister that her feud was over and if she ever wanted to say anything to him again, she best get to steppin' right then and there. She chose to stay in the hallway and observe - because she had some Pop in her, too. Her loss. That was Christmas Eve - and when word came up the ridge the next morning that he had passed sometime before 6am, I told whoever called that I knew already, but thanks...because I did. You know, I've had to put up with a few folks over the years making comments about how Pop "chose" Christmas Day to leave us - including that sawed-off little evil stepmother, who SWORE he did it "on purpose" to ruin Christmas for all of us. Oy... If anything, when he comes to me in dreams to this day, I prefer to think of it as my Pop having a little chuckle about the whole thing. He always had that dry wit, that twinkle and wink in his eye as he was pulling someones' leg, having a little fun at their expense. I didn't always do right with Pop and I know I disappointed him more than once in this life, as I went through those teen years and probably sometimes after. But you want to get right down to it? He's always been my hero. I've never known a more honest man in my life - a more fair man, a more firm man and a smarter man than any I've ever met. In the end, all I wanted to know was whether I had made amends with him. I think I did? Anyways, it pops up every year and Christmas is pretty different for me than for most - and that's ok, too. I can mime normalcy during holidays for others' benefit, too....just like he would. Y'all hug everyone you love extra hard tonight, please. For me. For Pop. Ok?