Two Years Gone...
My father, Louis Albert Billings Jr., passed away two years ago today, January 7. It hardly seems like it has been two entire years but it has.
The circumstances of my dad’s passing are commonplace enough in most ways. He had been terminally ill for about 14 months when he passed away. Just after R and I were married in October, 2004, he was diagnosed as undergoing liver failure. He’d been feeling badly at the wedding (and not looking well at all) and he found out afterwards that his liver was failing him. Being more than fifty with a history of questionable health, he knew that his possibilities of getting a transplant were low. In spite of this, he pulled up stakes and moved to Denver to get treatment and wait for a transplant.
My dad owned some small properties in northern Wyoming. He had been disabled by a industrial injury since the late 1970s (his late 20’s), when he had worked as a shipwelder at Lockheed’s shipyards in Seattle. He received Federal disability but this was a very limited income. He’d fortunately managed to sell some property that he’d had and bought a couple of small houses to act as rentals. While traveling to visit these in late December, 2005, he became ill and less than lucid. He spent a week in a hospital, checked out, and headed home to Denver. On the way, while staying in Cheyenne, Wyoming, he passed away.
Following his wishes, I flew to Denver and drove up to retrieve his remains and attend to him. I had him cremated in Cheyenne. On Memorial Day, 2006, with the help of my grandfather, my dad’s ashes were placed with those of previous generations of the family (and at least one sibling) in Newcastle, Wyoming.
My father was a cantankerous bastard at times. In many ways, his traits in this area are an exaggeration of the same that others see in me (or, more properly, I am a bit less cranky than he was). Dad was his own man. He moved out of home at 16 due to an inability to get along with his stepfather (“me or you” was how he told me his stepfather put it). He worked and managed to finish high school while on his own. Eventually, he was schooled in his trade as a welder and found he enjoyed the art of it. Unfortunately, his injury ended his career but he took that opportunity to attend college. I have his Bachelor’s diploma here in the stuff I gathered after his death. In many ways, Lou was self-educated and, after two marriages, wound up living largely on his own. He had a difficult life but it was his own life and he chose how he lived it. How many of us get to say that at the end?
I miss the sonovabitch, no matter how much we argued over, well, just about everything be it politics, religion, women, or any other conceivable topic. It is weird to wake up on a day and know that a parent is gone forever. After two years, it is still weird.
I love you, Dad. I still miss you.