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Monday, January 31, 2011

The Obit Makes it Official

There's nothing more final than seeing your Dad's obit in the paper.  I'd even re-written it with the funeral director so I knew it was coming, but holding the paper in your hand and seeing it there was like a punch in the stomach from an icy hand.

Albert J. LaPrade, 84, died Wednesday, January 26, 2011 in Quaboag on the Common in West Brookfield.

He leaves his wife of 33 years, Billee A. (Bowen) LaPrade; two sons: Al LaPrade and his wife Tomoko of Nagoya, Japan and Andy Fish and his wife Veronica of Worcester; one daughter, Darlene Santana of Worcester; four sisters: Shirley Quatrocci of Spencer, Pauline Pinkham of Oxford, Jackie Fullen of Auburn and Sandra Plante of Fall River; his mother-in-law, Jean Bowen of West Brookfield; his sister-in-law, Peggy Lof and her husband Dave of Warren; six grandchildren: Matt, Joe, Adam, Rik, Ryan and Maralee and several nieces and nephews. He was born in Worcester, son of the late Albert H. and Emma J. (Sarasin) LaPrade and was a lifelong resident.

Mr. LaPrade owned and operated several businesses in Worcester and Leicester before retiring. He was a New England Champion in left handed Candlepin Bowling.

He was a United States Navy Veteran of W.W.II.

Funeral Services for Albert will be held privately at the convenience of his family. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Quaboag on the Common Activities Fund, 47 East Main Street, West Brookfield MA 01585. The family wishes to extend it's heartfelt gratitude to the staff at Quaboag and Guardian Hospice Care. Varnum Funeral Home, Inc., 43 East Main St., West Brookfield is directing arrangements.

The obit could have been twenty pages long.  

He was self employed his whole life, with the exception of a stint in the Navy.  He was the kind of guy who was built for self employment.  He didn't have time for office politics or having someone tell him what to do.

Veronica was talking to him early last year when we were considering where to hold the wedding.

"We'd like to try and have it on the beach." She said to him.
"What do you mean try?" He replied, cigar in hand.  "There's no such thing as try.  You either do it or you don't do it, but there's no 'try'."

He meant it nicer than it sounded, and I know for a fact he wasn't aware he was spouting the wisdom of Yoda-- but that summed him up for me.  The world offers no excuses, just get it done or get out of the way.

He retired in 2001 when it became clear he couldn't drive anymore.  He and I would go out for breakfast once or twice a month, catch an occasional ball game -- often going to the Pawsox where we had access to superbox seating, or I catch up with him as he busily worked in the yard.

After his stroke in November I sat with him and watched a Celtics game at the Nursing Home, and we talked during the commercials.  His speech was severely affected and I'm not even sure he could see the game but that didn't stop us from pretending that everything was going to be okay.  That he'd be back in the yard soon and able to make his daily trip downtown to Dunkin' Donuts or the Midtown Diner.

Knowing him, it was more than false hope that had me thinking if anyone could beat this, he could.
He was a powerful figure, not afraid of anyone or anything-- and ready to give you your opinion whether you asked for it or not.  He was an entrepreneur who bought and sold real estate.  Opened a small market in Leicester and worked hard every day.

He laughed at me when I did something stupid, and he was there for me when I needed help.  He was a champion bowler and could balance the national debt in his head.  He was a lot of things, but most of all he was my Pop.

He fought right up to just about the end, then when he decided enough was enough he stopped.

Today my brother and his wife left for their home in Japan and we all get back to the business of normal life resuming.  My classes at Emerson begin again, my Mom will go back to work and we'll all do our best get back on track.  

I'm not sure how easy that's going to be.