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My Dad, Gerry Krause by Amy

This post originally appeared on my blog

March 26, 2011 is the day that divides my life in two, that changed me forever. The day that started a year of firsts that my friends who also live lives divided tell me is the toughest.

It started off as a pretty average day. My dad came to my house at 9:30 a.m. to pick up my daughter, Dana, for their Miracle League softball game. He was a coach, she an able-bodied buddy for one of the disabled players on his team. 9:30 on a Saturday morning isn’t my favorite time — I am more of a night person. My dad loved the morning so he was bright-eyed and happy as he came into my house, asking me if I had seen a mutual friend’s son in the local newspaper proudly displaying his science fair award. My dad was beaming as if he had something to do with our friend’s success. He and Dana headed out the door, went to the game, then to Dixieline to get some wood for different projects they had each planned for later that day. They returned a few hours later, my dad helped himself to a sandwich for lunch and was on his way out the door, when my husband, Paul, asked him to take a look at the upstairs toilet which had not been working for quite some time. At the sound of a successful flush, I went upstairs and thanked my dad for helping to finally make the bathroom functional again. I did my little “happy dance,” singing “daddy is the greatest.” We walked downstairs, my dad and I hugged, and both said, “I love you” and “See you tomorrow,” as we were going to celebrate my mom’s 70th birthday the next morning. That was the last time my dad saw me, and that I saw him alive. He was 70 years young.

On his way home, he called my mom, told her how proud he was of Dana, what a sweet girl she was, how special she was and what a great buddy she was at Miracle League. Strange since he was on his way home and would see my mom in a few minutes. Once home, my dad started his project, but he never finished. My dad suffered a fatal brain aneurysm in his office chair about an hour and a half after leaving my house that Saturday.

I will spare you the blow by blow drama and trauma that ensued that following 24 hours, except to say that 12 hours after an ambulance took my father from my parents’ house to the hospital emergency room, the same ambulance crew took my mom from the same house to the same emergency room. She was having a heart attack, a specific kind of heart attack called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, commonly known as “broken heart syndrome” — which makes sense as they had spent 55 of their 70 years together. My mom is expected to make a full physical recovery, and although she was the one officially diagnosed, we are all heartbroken.

Brokenhearted because my dad was a really good man, and will be missed by many. He was a great dad, a wonderful Papa to my girls, friend, brother, uncle, mentor, husband and soulmate. He was a guy’s guy, the first to cry at a sad movie, and a bit of a ladies’ man all at the same time. In fact, a recent condolence letter from a family friend revealed her “slightly inappropriate crush-like

feelings” for the hunky Mr. Krause of her youth. He was a special and rare man who had transitioned from the overprotective, stern father figure to young daughters and their childhood friends, to become a supportive and friend of a father to his grown daughters and their women friends.

My dad was an interesting combination of a traditional and modern man all rolled into one. On many occasions, my mom told me my dad was envious of the style of parenting and fatherhood Paul’s generation enjoyed. While Paul was never the only man at a school performance or ceremony for our girls, my dad was for sure the only dad at my Brownie fly up ceremony. If my dad missed out with me and my sister, he made up for it when he became a grandpa. Papa Gerry was hands-on, at least once the

diapers came off! He even went to preschool with my daughter, Sophie, for “sharing” when she had to share her favorite things that began with “P.” He proudly sat front and center, with a broad smile and tears in his eyes, at every one of Sophie’s dance performances since he moved here. He would take Sophie on bike rides, out to lunch, and send her emails when she went away to college. They had a special thing going, those two. My dad patiently sat on the sidelines of almost every soccer game of Dana’s. When Dana was in kindergarten, she didn’t really “play” soccer; she and the other girls were more interested in pulling

up their socks and twirling their pigtails than running after the ball. My dad would leave those games, a bit frustrated, while my mom and I would laugh at how cute the girls were and at my dad’s desire for a five-year-old competitive athlete! But he hung in there season after season, until that fateful day many years later when Dana found her “soccer speed” and made contact with a player on the opposing team. One minute that girl was running with the ball, the next she was down on the ground, and Dana was running the ball towards the goal! My dad was recovering from quintuple bypass at the time and I will never forget how happy he was, leaping to his feet ,yelling in his best sports fan voice, “Run baby run!” He had waited through two and a half generations of girly girls for someone to make a competitive move with a ball. Dana was his from that minute on!

To say my dad was an athlete and a sports fan is an understatement! If there had been an over 60’s beginners soccer club, I swear my dad would have been out there. If my dad wasn’t playing sports, he was watching them, so I was very familiar with that sports voice and the phrase, “run baby run.” I heard that sports yell my whole life. As a small child, it was kind of scary. But I grew to love it. When I first moved to San Diego, I used to hear it on the other end of the phone while talking to my mom still in Michigan. In unison, my dad and my husband would be yelling at the same play in the same game at the

same time. My dad had two televisions on at once in one room and one in another room over his shoulder, long before a screen within a screen was invented. Sometimes we would think he was sleeping in his chair until he would bolt upright and use that voice — that voice that was reserved for sports. Never scolding, only cheering. I never imagined him using that voice while watching one of my children play one of the few sports my dad never played. What a gift for both of us.

My dad’s game of choice throughout most of his life was squash. When he underwent his bypass surgery, he made the doctor mark the “non squash” arm as the one to take the veins from for the procedure; after all, he was only 60 and had a lot of good squash years left! In fact, my dad always said he wanted to die on the squash

court. He made certain to clarify it should be after a victory or with enough of a lead that the match would not be contested. He thought of himself as a strong athletic virile guy, even at 70. He said he wasn’t afraid to die, he’d had a good life, but he didn’t want to be sick, to suffer, or to fade away. Well, he got his wish — a few of the details wrong but, all in all, he went the way he wanted to, after what was for him, a really good day. A day like my dad — simple, understated and nice, in a quiet, sunny Saturday hanging with your granddaughter at the ball field running errands kind of day.

Read Lois’ tribute to her dad here, and Susan’s tribute to her dad here.


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