When I think of my dad, I will forever picture a 45 year old man, with tan hands and a dark brown mustache. A witty, quiet man, who could often help you make sense of this complicated world with just a few words. A man who loves naps almost as much as he loves my mom, his wife of 52 years. He knows struggle more intimately than most, through the loss of his first born, a 7 year old boy named Douglas, and many other tales that are only his to tell. I hold his stories in my heart.
Doug, Dad and me
Ron Pratt, was born in St. Louis Missouri in 1938 to parents Agnes and Jesse.
His best friend, Don Steinmeyer (left) and my dad (right in both pics.) "Our Dad was a babe", I told my sisters when we saw these pictures.
Dad graduated high school from St. John the Baptist, and went into the Navy for the next 5 years, 2 years in active duty and 3 years in the reserves. He started civilian life at Union Electric, the local Utility Company as a lineman, where he worked by day and then went to night school. He met my mom, Joan, when she was just 18, and he was 25 at the Cathedral Club, a group for young single Catholics. "We were in a Christmas Program. I danced and he played the banjo," shares my mom.
They married in 1966, after a simple proposal that occurred one morning at Uncle Bill’s pancake house in St. Louis Missouri. Together Ron and Joan had 4 children. Douglas was their first born, a precious son. Followed a few years later by me- (Hi- I'm Chrissy. Nice to meet you!). When Doug was just 7, he was hit by a car while crossing the street, and he died the next day. A year later, daughter Lisa was born. And last came the youngest, Katie.
Chrissy, Ron, Joan and Lisa
Katie, Dad and Lisa
I can remember times we only had one car, so my mom would wake us up while it was still dark out to take my dad to work at the Utility Company. We didn't have a lot of money growing up, but even then, my fondest memories really have nothing to do with cost. A big night at our house involved a TV movie and popcorn popped right on the stove. "I'm popping," my dad would say. "Who is pouring?" It was my mom's job to pour Kool Aide from a plastic tupper wear pitcher, or if we were really lucky, Hawaiian Punch stored in the fridge in a half gallon metal can. I can almost taste the slight tinge of metal and the pure sweetness of childhood.
Recently my dad had surgery to remove a benign cyst in his brain, located specifically in his cerebellum. Hopes were high and the surgeon didn’t seem too concerned. But a few hours after surgery, my dad became unresponsive. He was rushed back into surgery that same night, where they discovered a blood clot that had formed. It did damage, and recovery is not what was initially expected. Greyson and I flew from Fresno, California the next morning. I was terrified the entire flight that I would land to the news that my dad had died.
He remained in the ICU for several weeks and transferred to a skilled nursing facility a few days ago. We are working to transfer him to a different Skilled Nursing Facility, one that can better take care of his needs. He has fallen a few times and has a huge knot and abrasion on his head and a black eye. Not being there able to help him feels like drowning. I am going back to Missouri soon, and my only goal is to sit and hold his hand with my family around. There is so much that has to be done (transfer facilities, figure insurance out, sell my parents home- it's got three stories and will not work again, find an accountant to help with my dad's Real Estate books...drowning...) We will do 24 hours at a time, while chipping away daily at the future. 24 hours we can do. My dad has always taken care of us, and deserves the best- He is a precious part of many hearts.
In parenting they say, "It all goes by so fast." The same rings true for being a child, and watching your parents grow up and old too. It's all so fast. Now that I am a parent and see just how dang hard it is, I appreciate my parents even more.
If you are the praying type, we sure would appreciate yours. I am my father's daughter, and he is my heart. I needed you to know just a glimmer of my dad and his story. He helps me remember who I am.
He is my safe place
Thank you God, for our dad. We really got a good one.
So much Love,