Mickey was my father-in-law. He had a heart of gold and a sense of humour. He recently passed away. This is my tribute to him.
Mickey Fluet passed away in the wee hours of Sunday September 2, 2012 after a lengthy illness. Two years ago, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The doctors operated and to everyone’s relief the tumor was benign. He was also diagnosed with diabetes which could be controlled with medication and diet. Just when we thought he had pulled through, the tumor, once again benign returned.
For awhile, everything seemed to be okay. I invited him to a family picnic that my company had in Bowness Park (Calgary, Alberta). He enjoyed himself immensely and later told me that he missed going to company functions.
Mickey was with us when our son was born and hospitalized shortly after his birth because he had suffered seizures. Mickey came to the hospital with us to help out and when he retired he would baby sit my son, William, while I worked or took on writing jobs for my clients. While I was pregnant, Mickey had lost his eldest son to his battle with bladder cancer and he said that our son, William, filled the void that his son had left.
On Sundays we would go to church together and Mickey would come back to our house where we’d have a late breakfast. Often, he’d stay for supper too. We would take William for walks and he helped out in many other ways.
I remember one Christmas morning when Mickey came over to celebrate the day with us. He enjoyed his food and he had a “tummy” that proved it. He also had white hair and a beard. He came into the house laughing because a couple of neighbourhood boys, who were outside when he arrived, called him Santa Claus!
My marriage to his son, ended badly as do many marriages. Mickey didn’t want William caught in the middle and once again he stepped up to the plate and helped out with William. William and his Papa were inseparable.
Mickey had been raised in a large Catholic family and to him family meant everything. He enjoyed attending family reunions, and being with his grandson. After his son and I divorced he remained my friend. When I was in a near-fatal accident five years ago, it was Mickey who would come to visit me at the hospital with William. And after I returned home to convalesce Mickey would pick me up on Sunday morning and we would go to church.
He loved sports and sailing, in particular. He belonged to a group who would go to Vancouver Island each year and embark on a sailing trip. He enjoyed playing golf and he loved going to the Stampede football games. Much of his spare time was spent watching sports on TV.
One year, he and my son William went to Vancouver Island to stay with my folks, who are also avid sailors. They spent time on their sailboat and I know he enjoyed that immensely!
Earlier this year, Mickey’s health began a steady decline. He need help using the washroom. Fortunately, his son took care of him. Then, he was unable to walk as the tumor was affecting his motor skills. Before he passed away, he was no longer able to swallow or speak.
William and I discussed the fact that Papa wasn’t going to be with us for much longer. How do you prepare a child for the death of a beloved grandparent?William had already gone through the death of his paternal great grandmother and our cat, and he learned that our lives on this planet do not last forever and that we need to cherish those loved ones and pets who are in our lives. But this was different as Papa was so special to him.
I know of many people who never did get to know their grandparents because they had passed on before they were born. In this way, William has been very fortunate. My father’s parents lived well into their 80’s and 90’s and my mother’s mother, my Oma, is 96 years old. I too, was able to experience the joy that comes with knowing grandparents. They become our friends and allies, they invite is to their homes during the summer holidays and they share with us their stories that remind us that even though we go through struggles during our lives that obstacles can be surmounted.
A couple of weeks ago, William’s father arranged for Mickey to spend his final days in a hospice.
William was sad and worried and I told him that his Papa would probably be called home to heaven soon.
William was at my house this past weekend and was worried because he could not reach his father by phone. He felt anxious that something had happened to him. Early on Sunday morning, he was finally able to reach his dad who gave him the news. He had spent the night at the hospice and Papa had passed away.
What I’ve learned from all of this is that life is a circle. We are born and if we’re fortunate we are born into a family that loves and protect us. They teach us how to become strong men and women so that we can mature and become ready to fulfil our destiny and our place in this world. And hopefully, they teach us how to be responsible and learn from our mistakes. My father died from emphysema when I was 18 years old and I learned early on what it means to lose a loved one. However, I often feel as though he is with me in some way and that in itself is a major source of comfort.
We need to spend less time bickering, and judging those who love us and more time appreciating them for who they are and what they mean to us. And we may not have “blood” ties with those who we consider to be our family, and instead we may have “heart” ties. But it’s a wonderful blessing when we have both!
Mickey was a good friend and a wonderful grandparent. Mickey, May you rest in peace knowing that you are missed and still very much loved by those you’ve left behind! I am glad that you shared a part of my life!