I wrote the following article which originally appeared in the Palatine Patch (http://palatine.patch.com/blog_posts/never-had-a-bad-day).
I generally post a photo blog – but today I’d like to talk about pops. William J Tucker (my dad) ended his multi-year struggle with Alzheimer’s and dementia very early Sunday morning. He was 87. He was a WWII veteran, but like many of that generation did not talk alot about his service. It was something that had to be done and he did it, just like most of his brothers and friends. He said he was a company clerk or something and didn’t do much, so there was nothing to talk about.
He grew up during the depression and his mom and dad (Molly and Charlie) rarely had two nickles to rub together. That didn’t keep his 5 brothers and 1 sister from developing a close friendship that lasted until this day. It is sad that only his sister Peg and sister-in-law Maureen are left of this, the greatest generation.
They did not go out to clubs and party all the time. There were get-togethers full of laughter and fun, some small gatherings, most with a house full of people that seemed to occur on a very regular basis. They cooked and cleaned, drank Manhattans and martinis, played cards and told stories, some true others greatly embellished. This generation really showed us the meaning of family and friendship, making the most of what you have and knowing that no matter how tough you THINK you had it, there was always someone less fortunate.
I have four brothers. We were not rich, but we weren’t poor. We had issues, like every other family, especially with all boys. My dad might not have won father of the year, but I can say that I wasn’t starved for love or affection.
I am sure that I inherited many traits, aside from stubbornness, from my dad. I love mornings. I remember my dad, who worked nights, used to love mornings, especially on his days off. RISE and SHINE he would say and when we were on vacation in Minocqua, that meant a day of fun, whether fishing, water skiing or sitting on the beach.
I am also sure that my love for photography developed from seeing my dad’s pictures. My dad took so many pictures. Family events, landscapes, and just us kids around the house. He used mostly slide film, so when we wanted to look at pictures the screen went up, the popcorn got popped on the stove and the laughter began.
Sunsets were one of my dad’s favorites, and when I look back on some of those pictures I marvel at how good they turned out. Photography wasn’t digital back then, and he didn’t take any classes, but most of his pictures turned out just great. I am sure my love of sunsets….and sunrises is the result.
My dad was also good at fixing the car and being a general jack-of-all trades around the house. Unfortunately, this trait skipped a generation and I am sure my son Stephen has picked that up. If I need a light bulb changed, I call an electrician (my son). He would also tell me it was a lamp.
And dad loved his grandkids. Come to visit, send them home with candy. Come to visit, and it’s ice cream for dessert, even if they didn’t eat their dinner, much less their vegetables. Dad’s ice cream cones were legendary. I am sure there was a pint of ice cream in every cone. His smile always as full as his lap.
So that’s the story of my dad. Just an average guy doing average things, trying to live a full and happy life. In the end, dad’s disease robbed him of the memories that he so loved. His brothers and sister, nieces and nephews, sons and grandkids became strangers to him. But he was never a stranger to us.
In these past few days, I have been fortunate to hear many stories from my brothers and cousins. I will cherish them just as much as I will cherish the slides from my father’s collection that I have converted into digital prints. I have posted of a few of them here.
My dad’s mantra for many years has been “Never Had a Bad Day.” I would question that, being that he raised five boys who destroyed I don’t know how many lamps, cars, windows, doors and walls. He fought through heart attacks, cancer, car wrecks and the death of his his wife, parents and siblings. But he always greeted you with a smile and when asked would tell you “Never had a bad day!”
Weep not for me, nor my dad, for he no longer suffers. Instead, show gratitude to those health care professionals that care for those that can’t care for themselves. And when you see a picture of mine that you like, say thank you to my dad.