My father died recently in Sun City Center, Florida. His name was Clyde R. Galles and he was 91 years old. He lived independently until last July when he fell and broke his hip. He did not have the strength or the determination to recover and walk again. And so, he was moved to the nursing home in his retirement community. He was not happy about leaving his apartment, but there was no choice. His heart finally gave out.
When my mother died at age 83 in May of 2000, I thought he would die from heartbreak and loneliness. My brother and sister and I would call him frequently and visit as often as we could to boost his spirits and let him know that he was loved. Fortunately, he lived in a healthy retirement community called Freedom Plaza that gave him great support and good friends. More recently, my father was under the care of Hospice. When you learn about Hospice and know the care that they provide, you will know how valuable they can be. The Hospice people and the caregivers from the retirement community were angels caring for him each and every day.
My father was born in 1917 in Port Washington, Wisconsin. He served as an officer in the Army Air Force during World War II in the Pacific theater. He graduated in 1963 from Indiana University with a B.S. degree in Mathematics. He retired in 1979 as an Industrial Engineer from Bethlehem Steel in Burns Harbor, Indiana. He served as an elder at First Presbyterian Church and was on the Town Board of Long Beach and participated in the Big Brother program.
In 1980, Clyde and Ruth moved from Michigan City, Indiana, to Sun City Center in Florida to enjoy their retirement. There my father served on the boards of the Military Order of the World Wars, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church and Freedom Plaza Retirement Village. He enjoyed traveling with my mother to visit family wherever they lived. He thoroughly enjoyed walking his boxer dogs and showing off their tricks to friends. He was a good husband, father, and grandfather as well as a good friend. I cannot imagine 28 years of retirement, but I am so pleased that he could enjoy those years.
We will have a memorial service for him this spring in his hometown with other family members, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. In the meantime, I think about him every day. I don’t have to worry any more about the state of his health and how he is feeling. I am confident that he has met up with Mom and other family members that have passed before him. He is free to be happy and enjoy a new life beyond the physical realm.
I have so many good memories of growing up in our family. I am so grateful for what they gave me and the unconditional support that was always there. I can only hope and pray that many others can enjoy and appreciate a similar experience in their families. Lord knows, we had our struggles and challenges, but we always had each other. I miss my parents, but I am so proud of them and so grateful for all their care and all they taught me.