See One; Show One; Teach One; Good-Bye, Dad, Part I

See One; Show One; Teach One; Good-Bye, Dad, Part I
By Monette Benoit
All Rights Reserved.

Today, June 19, 2016, is Father’s Day. Originally, I wrote a shorter version for my NCRA (National Court Reporters Association) JCR, Journal of Court Reporting, column, February 2012. Still feeling the loss of both parents – caregiver for both – I share now.

They were married 58 years. She gave the engagement ring back three times.

His father was killed in a car accident less than one week before the wedding.

A child ran into the road. His father swerved missing the first child.

Then, a second child ran to the first child. His father hit a tree, at full speed, to avoid hitting the two children.

After the funeral, everyone (I ‘mean’ everyone) wanted he, the only child, not to marry – soon.

Her mother was dying with cancer. If the wedding did not go forward, she would never see him again. Never.

When they did marry in a quiet wedding, everyone wore black, except the bride.

He fell hard for this Southern belle, professional ballet dancer, degreed opera singer, and student enrolled at the University of Houston to become a special education instructor.

She was working at Sakowitz and Neiman Marcus, while attending school, as a fashion consultant and model. (The engagement ring was from Sakowitz, 15% discount. The bridal gown was from Neiman Marcus with a discount, also, due to her employment.)

When they met, he was employed by the University of Houston and was helping the Veterans Administration build and create a psych department, after his draft ended.

Growing up with my parents and a special-needs brother, I always marveled (my words) “how when it was good, it was very good; when it was not good – you two went to your corners – always.”

In fact, I had a $50 bet that they’d never make it to their 50th anniversary. (Only daughter with multiple brothers and their ‘constant learning challenges’ – this made sense to me…)

When they argued, I softly teased my parents about my bet. They would wince their eyes and glare at me; now and then I received a tart remark.

When my family flew from Texas to the home of a younger brother for their 50th anniversary, I phoned to tell them that we had our rental car.

I shared, “We’re here!” after three airports and a full, long day.

Dad, “Your mother and I are not speaking. I’ll give her the phone.”

My tired eyebrows shot up; my giggles percolated.

Mom, “We are not speaking. When will I see you, honey?”

Laughing, I pleaded, “Mom, pulllese leave him. You, we, have three hours. I can come right now. I promise to give you $50. Pulllese leave him.”

Mom, sweetly, “I will see you in the morning. I love you more than I did since we last talked!” (…how Mommy ended phone calls with me.)

To her husband, “Here! I’m finished.” Click.

The next morning, I raced over to my parents, holding hands, greeting people.

Me, “Dad, what happened last night?”

He, “I don’t remember.”

Me to Mom, “What happened?”

She, “Now is not the time to talk about it. But I will tell you all about it later. Alone. Without him! I stood my ground! I did. We’re so glad you’re here!”

Me, to Dad, “So, this is how you made it to 50 years? You don’t remember? And you, Mom, you’ll tell me later?”

Both giggled, nodding, and hugged each other.

Dad took my hand, “Let’s get a glass of wine. ‘You’ did not win your bet. I did!”

Through the years we joked about that morning Dad and I had a glass of wine because that was his win.

We laughed about it when Mom was seriously ill. Then, Dad soon followed with serious health issues.

Within the blink of an eye, each had ER, ICU, pre-op, medical admissions.

Then, there were parents in two different hospitals, each critically ill.

As the only daughter (court reporter here) I remember verbatim conversations – and am grateful for not winning my $50 bet.

Today, Father’s Day, I know they’re together again – far from here.

Emmett’s Jesuit Catholic beliefs and my mother’s very strong religious beliefs always taught me that they are now together.

I share this as a tribute to the gentleman who was so good to his wife, to his children, his family, and to all.

Dad had a master’s degree in adult education; was a psychologist; social worker; guidance counselor; co-author; chemistry, science, and English teacher who researched linguistics and history – an “avid-life enthusiast” I called him.

Mom had a master’s degree in elementary special education, was a music instructor, and played seven instruments.

For years, I thought everyone’s mother had a xylophone under their bed.

Her mother was a piano prodigy (and court stenographer) with her own orchestra during the Depression.

I still grieve for how Dad died and for the world I now have without his laughter, his checking in, “I do not need an appointment to see my daughter. Never. Never! No matter where you live and no matter where you work your mother and I will stop in to see you. Always. Just like with your brothers…”

They appeared in each state and each courtroom where I worked.

I will always remember working, focused, often head down – then, I would hear Dad cough.

Sheer panic would set in when I looked up to see if they were in the courtroom pews – or worse, in the jury box where a bailiff or judge granted seats to the court reporter’s parents.

With great love, I can hear Dad, “Onward now,” as he gently reached his hand out to me to give me one last hug.

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