~Louis James Kmietek ~
June 30, 1933 - November 8, 1995
15 years. 15 long years.
My father was my hero. He could walk on water and I was in love with him. I know it sounds silly, but there are many days, still, after 15 years, that I forget that my father is dead.
He had the death he prayed for. He died on the golf course after teeing off the 4th hole. He hit the ball and said to his buddies, "Boy, that was a good one." They all turned to get back in their golf carts and he was gone. Just like that.
The week preceding his untimely death was full of premonitions. Exactly one week, to the minute, before his death, I had a doctor's appointment with a new doctor. As she was getting all of my medical info, she asked me if both of my parents were still alive. I said yes, but a voice in my head said, "Not for long." The doctor drew two, upward facing arrows next to "mother" & "father", as if to show they weren't six feet under. When I heard the voice in my head and saw those arrows, I became immediately nauseous.
A few days later I spoke on the phone with him for the last time. I was at work at night. We were talking and an employee needed me right away. After I hung up the phone and went to assist my staff, I felt two hands on my back push me. My feet went out from under me and I fell hard. No one had actually pushed me but I had the strong urge to call my father back. But I never did.
The day he died was the absolute worst day of my life and I can remember it vividly. The premonitions were acute that morning. I had grabbed a small pink rosary and stuffed it into my suit pocket before heading off to a meeting that I was feeling extremely nervous about. This was behavior that was strange to me then. It was unseasonably cold for mid-November. The wind was like a sharp whip that day. I was at a general manager's meeting in Middletown, New York. When I reached into my purse to grab change for the toll, a photo of my father fell out of my wallet. I was wearing a raspberry colored suit with a black blouse. I can remember every, single, minute detail of that day.
We had no cell phones then and when my husband finally got a hold of me and told me, I went into immediate shock. One of my employees had to bear-hug me up and carry me back to my office from which I had wandered out of. I called my boss to come and take me home. When he walked me into my apartment, like a rabid dog I tore apart the garbage in my kitchen. I still had my suit on and my boss stood there, awkward in my home, staring at me acting like an animal. I had a vague recollection of throwing out a note that my father had sent me. And sure enough, after pawing through the trash, I found the last note he ever wrote me in his distinctive handwriting.
The following days were brutal. I was 26 years old and my beloved father was dead. When my husband told me that Daddy had died, I couldn't remember what he looked like. It took me years to get over that weird guilt, even though I had read that that was a common grief effect. But these days, I can remember him like I saw him yesterday.
So as I prepare to celebrate the 15th anniversary of his passing, I will start to document what I can remember here. The good and the bad. The happy and the sad. My biggest regret in life is that he never knew my children and they never knew him. Maybe, here, I can find a way to let them know what an amazing man their Poppy was.