Six years ago today we lost my father-in-law to esophageal cancer. He died on his daughter Kim's second wedding anniversary, almost a month before our wedding and a week before Father's Day. My brother took John out for a drink the night of his death, a rite of passage as a new member of the club if you will.
Jack Stevens was a dapper man, a pillar of Saratoga Springs, a legend. He played a bartender in the movie, My Old Man, which was set in Saratoga Springs in 1979. For seven years his father, "Big Lew", was in long-term care and Jack visited him every day. Every day. According to John, when they went on vacation he would hire a friend to bring him the paper and talk with him for no less than 30 minutes. That is loyalty and compassion. I only knew him for two short years and after my father died I was comforted in knowing that I was about to have a father-in-law to guide us through big decisions and hold our newborn babies.
We shared stories on Facebook tonight and this is what has ensued:
Hannah Stevens Christopher :) Let's share nice/funny memories of Dad. I'll start. I went "the lake way" home tonight (6/12/11) in memory of him. He would always suggest this way and say it was the best, most direct route. He would even remind us which roads to take!!! That part used to crack me up. Like I didn't know the way home:)
Jane Oh Hannah, thanks for sharing that--means so much!
Amy I remember him sitting in the old kitchen at the table and as John and I were leaving I rubbed his bald head! We both were kind of surprised, I don't know what prompted me to do that but I was sooo embarrassed, he just awkwardly smiled at me. Ha!!!
Hannah I loved that old kitchen. Remember his pile of papers used to be so neat and organized?
Hannah I hope John has a nice/funny memory to share.
John I loved his stories. His friends stopped into the Colonial Tavern to have a beer while dad hid in the car. The friends talked to Grandma Blanch and told her that Jack was up at school studying and it was too bad that he couldn't come on the trip to Indiana to to see his school in the basketball finals.
Hannah Hahaha! I never heard that one!!!!! I believe it though;)
John He also had his friends answer the pay phone in his hall way to say, "Jack's in the library studying Mrs Stevens." When he really was on the trip to Indiana.
John I always like his Polo Grounds story with Leo Quinn. Dad was like 11 or 12 and fell asleep during a NY Giants (baseball) game. Dad loved baseball. Leo not so much, but dad fell asleep and missed a game-winning home run. He also always bragged about riding the subway from Rockaway Beach to the Polo Grounds at such a young age. They stayed with Leo's aunt.
Hannah Never heard those either. You really need to think of more and share away:) I always liked the Race Track stories from the summers he worked there.
John How about working at the Gaslight? He said wives would call looking for their husbands and they would ask dad to lie for them. He never would. He would hand them the phone and make them deal with their situation.
John How about driving by the West Side Field. He always said the same thing, "That's where I struck out 16 Greenwich Witches. I really had my curve ball going that day." Then I would ask him, "Did you ever get any hits dad?" And he would s...ay, " I had a double my first game of the season that hit the back fence on one hop, but I only had a few singles the whole rest of the season." He was only slightly disappointed by his hitting but was always really proud of his pitching!!
He would have loved the string of grandchildren that have come along and they would have loved him. RIP Jack, you are missed.