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The Inner Tube

Remembering Dad, The Inner Tube Incident

My father died on June 28th, 2018, after suffering a heart attack on June 23rd.  We had the funeral on July 2nd, 2018.  It was a touching funeral and I had a chance to speak.  I was thinking, I want to share that story, and other stories about my childhood about my dad and my family.  What I call “The Inner-tube Incident” is what I told as my eulogy., as best as I can remember.

I was thinking about my most “Dad” moment from my childhood and I always remember an incident we had with an inner-tube, a river, and a lost pair of glasses.  It was the summer of 1987.  We often went to Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains for vacation.  We would always drive there, in the case, in a large Chevy conversion van.  My older brother, Ron, had his learner’s permit.  In Illinois, you  can drive at 15, with a permit.  This is an important fact to remember.  Dad let him drive part of the way down to Tennessee.

A couple days into the vacation, we spotted a store where you can rent truck inner-tubes to go tubing down the river.  The first day was a beautiful, sunny day.  The river was flowing well, but nothing scary.  It was a rare day where there was no real rain. We spent a couple of hours going down, then back up, the river.  It was so much fun, we decided to do it again the next day.

This day, my dad decided to try tubing with us.  At first, it seemed much like the day before, except for one major difference, it rained in the mountains earlier that morning.  The river was already running much higher than the day before, but not terribly so.  About 10 minutes into the tubing, the river decided to turn from manageable to a raging torrent.

My dad made two mistakes that day:  He wore his glasses, while he was tubing, and he got out of the tube.  As soon as he was out of the tube, he lost his glasses to the raging river and started calling “Help! Help!”  I think this was the first time in my life I heard my dad call for help, with real terror in his voice.  I paddled over to him (while still in my tube) as quickly as I could.  My brother and I did help him back to shore.  This left us with a major problem: my dad has worn glasses his whole life, and needed them to drive.  Mom never had a driver’s license, and Ron, who was not even 16 yet, had a learner’s permit.

So, Ron, with  5 other people in Chevy van, had to drive us down the mountain.  A problem with Chevy vans at the time was the fact if you used the brakes too much, the viscosity of the brake fluid would change and you would lose effective braking.  Simply, if you braked too much, you would be driving a 5,000 lb vehicle down a mountain with no brakes.  I know when I was 15, I didn’t know much about down shifting, so we had to make our way down the mountain, occasionally stopping to let the brakes cool.  Ron did a great job getting us back safe.  There were some moments of real terror there, the road was long and winding and we are looking at couple of decades before GPS.

This did leave us with another issue, dad still didn’t have glasses, and the prescription was over 1,000 miles away.  To this day, I always pack a spare pair of glasses on every vacation.  We found a local optometrist in the yellow pages, this was the late 1980s, and we were able to get a new pair made pretty quickly.   I am sure it cost a pretty penny, but it only put our vacation on hold for day or two, which gave us time to swim in the poor.

While at the pool, someone decided to step/sit on my mother’s glasses, so the lucky optometrist in Sevierville got to make two pairs of glasses.  Other than the lost glasses, I did enjoy that trip.  I believe they recently opened The Village mall in Gatlinburg, which featured a hologram store.  Back in the day, holograms were art, not just a way to make sure coupons are legit and I can never forget Fannie Farkles.

Writing this really makes me miss my dad and the trips we took together.  I’ll try to post from time to time, it has been almost a month since he died, and it still it very raw to think about.

 

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Posted by on July 28, 2018 in Dad

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Remembering Dad

Today was the day of my Dad’s funeral.  He was laid to rest in Chapel Hill Garden South Cemetery, in Oak Lawn, Illinois.

It was a touching ceremony where we honored my father, Ronald L. Nelson, but to me, he was always Dad.  My two brothers and I spoke of his life, the ups and downs, shared some funny stories, and were able to close this chapter on his life.  He will be remembered by many.  I was truly touched by friends and neighbors who attended the funeral. My Dad was a kind man, he would always help those in need, and never judged you on the color of your skin.  He only cared about the content of your character and that is a lesson I think our nation needs to take to heart.  I truly miss him.  I was fortunate enough that the last words I spoke to him before he had a heart attack was “I love you Dad.”

Enough tears shed for today, now we all get to celebrate and be better people, lead by his example of never ignoring the plight of others.  He was not a saint, but he was a good man, father, and husband.

Below is a gallery of 164 photos we took over the last 17 years.  Some are flattering, some are not.  You can see how his health declined in later years, but when his smile came through, it was always genuine and I keep expecting to get a phone call, “Dave, Dad here…”

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Posted by on July 3, 2018 in Photos

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Goodbye Dad

I wanted to preserve a copy of my father’s obituary.  I plan to keep my site going for the rest of my life, just like the last 20 years(!)

He passed, surrounded by his family yesterday, Thursday, June 28, 2018.  My family has been wonderful and supportive, and it shows just how much he loved his children and how much we loved him.

OBITUARY

Ronald L. Nelson

OCTOBER 15, 1945 – JUNE 28, 2018

Ronald L. Nelson, age 72 of Chicago, IL passed away on Thursday, June 28, 2018. Beloved husband of 47 years to Marie (nee Williams); loving father of Ronald II (Evelyn), David (Tiffany), Michael (Erika) and Ann (Nathan) Miller; devoted grandfather of Glenn and Arianna; dear brother of Richard (Penny) and the late Larry (Jean) Nelson. Ron will be truly missed by the neighborhood children and his beloved cats, Wyatt and the late Salem. Family and friends gathering on Monday, July 2nd 12:00 p.m. until time of chapel service at 1:00 p.m. at Chapel Hill Gardens South Funeral Home 11333 S. Central Ave Oak Lawn, IL. Interment Chapel Hill Gardens South Cemetery. For more information 708-636-1200.

Services

2JULY

Visitation

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

CHAPEL HILL GARDENS SOUTH FUNERAL HOME

11333 South Central Ave
Oak Lawn, IL 60453

2JULY

Funeral Service

1:00 pm

CHAPEL HILL GARDENS SOUTH FUNERAL HOME

11333 South Central Ave
Oak Lawn, IL 60453

2JULY

Committal Service

1:45 pm – 2:00 pm

CHAPEL HILL GARDENS SOUTH CEMETERY

11333 S. Central Avenue
Oak Lawn, IL 60453

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Posted by on June 30, 2018 in Uncategorized

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Not Even Outraged, #9

With the recent shootings in Orlando Dallas Baton Rouge, a Virginia Baseball field, Las VegasSutherland Springs, Texas, Benton, Kentucky, Parkland, Florida, Sante Fe, Texas, I don’t know why people are outraged. After Sandy Hook and the daily shootings in cities across America, why are people surprised and outraged?  
The congress has been bought and paid for by the NRA for decades now. No one will stand up to them, or any other gun lobby, so we should just accept how this will be. Sucks, but it is the truth.
 
Unless the gun laws in the country change, this will keep happening. Creating concentration camps with Muslims won’t solve this. Creating a gestapo that removes 11,000,000 Latino won’t stop this. Common sense gun laws will. See Australia and the UK.
 
Next time this happens, and it will, I will copy and paste this post with new names.
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Posted by on May 18, 2018 in Uncategorized

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Not Even Outraged, #8

With the recent shootings in Orlando Dallas Baton Rouge, a Virginia Baseball field, Las VegasSutherland Springs, Texas, Benton, Kentucky, Parkland, Florida, I don’t know why people are outraged. After Sandy Hook and the daily shootings in cities across America, why are people surprised and outraged?  
The congress has been bought and paid for by the NRA for decades now. No one will stand up to them, or any other gun lobby, so we should just accept how this will be. Sucks, but it is the truth.
 
Unless the gun laws in the country change, this will keep happening. Creating concentration camps with Muslims won’t solve this. Creating a gestapo that removes 11,000,000 Latino won’t stop this. Common sense gun laws will. See Australia and the UK.
 
Next time this happens, and it will, I will copy and paste this post with new names.
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Posted by on February 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

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