30 Years Is a Long Time To Pass By This Fast
October 17, 2011

Friday was the 30th anniversary of the death of my father, and though I knew for quite awhile that I was going to write about it, I just didn't exactly to know what to say. I remember the night it happened just like it was yesterday, but I didn't want to write about that. I know that my life would be much different if he were still here. I don't know exactly how, but I like to think that it would be better, and I would certainly be much better off. There's not much to add to that, really, so I didn't want to write about that, either.

I visited the cemetery Friday. I hate to say I haven't really done that in five years other than a brief visit in February when I attended my friend John's funeral (the graveside service was at the same cemetery). Anyway, while I was there, sitting by myself, I started thinking about how things have changed since Dad has been gone. I've had that thought countless times, but while I was sitting by my father's headstone, I had a train of thought that I hadn't really explored before. If Dad were still alive today, would he LIKE what has become of Palmdale and the Antelope Valley?

I don't know if he would have been too crazy about the houses that have filled in what was once just desert behind what used to be our all-dirt backyard. There are also homes above and behind our street, which has created much more traffic. Dad may not have been too fond of that, either, but I'm sure he wouldn't be surprised. On the side of the house was a cul-de-sac. Dad knew it would be a through street someday, and it is, but now, where that street connects to the main road, there is a brand new multi-story hospital and medical center. Dad couldn't have seen that coming.

But what I think he would have really enjoyed, is that just about everything this town couldn't have possibly imagined 30 years ago is now available within a mile-and-a-half radius from the house. There's a shopping mall with all the major restaurants around it. Even closer than that is a Trader Joe's, Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, Pet Smart, Bed Bath and Beyond, Staples, Target, and more. No need to go "down below" (to L.A.) much anymore, but I'm sure there would still be those trips from time to time.

Dad would have just turned 80 a month ago. I can see him, retired, frequenting all of those places—driving around town, probably still in a little pickup, with a dog hanging its head out the window. Our house has brickwork all around it, which he built himself. Dad joked that it was a 30-year project, which is why he was just getting to the backyard. That would all be completed now, of course, but there would be something else he would be doing.

Dad would be a gadget freak too. For his 50th birthday, Mom gave him money to buy a VCR. In those days, they were pretty big, and pretty expensive. We got one, and hooked it up in the den. Dad died four days later. I could picture that den now as a man cave, a big TV with all the sports packages, DVR, Blu-Ray, the works. I think Best Buy would be his favorite store. He'd have an I-Phone, an I-Pod (with people like John Denver, the Carpenters, Neil Diamond, and Anne Murray on it), an I-Pad, and I-Everything. I'd be calling him for advice on which device was better, or how to use this or that.

He wouldn't have grandchildren, but he'd have a dozen or so grandnieces and nephews to pick on. He'd probably use his same old jokes too. He'd call a girl by a boy's name just to get a reaction out of her, or say, “Hey, what's that over there?”, and then steal a french fry when they look away. My cousins are getting a little old for those lines now, but he'd still have plenty of material.

So yes, I think my Dad would be pretty happy these days. But then again, there was hardly a time when he wasn't. If only his heart hadn't stopped 30 years ago.

I miss you, Dad.

Above Photo: Okay, this picture is much more than 30 years old (more like 45). My grandfather had a bunch of these as slides and I converted some to digital. He wrote the year on some, but didn't on others, so I have to guess. Good shot of my Dad (almost always wearing shorts). How about my Mom's hair! I don't think yellow is my color.

Mom, Dad, Grandpa's cousin Jeanette (kind of hard to see her), and me at Lake Tahoe (circa 1970). That shirt Dad was wearing showed up in a lot of pictures. How about my Red, White, and Blue jeans! I wore those on July 4 in Independence, California. I remember that.

Grandpa labeled this "Three Generations of Flynns" (circa 1967). I'm not sure what Dad, Nana, and I were looking at (I love the lawnmower in the background).

Dad and I having breakfast in 1967 (You can see the all-dirt backyard I was talking about).
I still have the card table and the dishes (Dad's coffee cup and saucer, and the rest of the set).

Dad working in the yard (I couldn't have been more than a year old). Gotta love our Ford Thunderbird in the garage.

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