The Summerland Advocate-Messenger - Reliable, Trustworthy Reporting, Capturing The Heartbeat Of Our Community

By LuAnn Schindler

-Isms: Dancing in heaven

Original views on life in rural America


January 7, 2021

One photo of my parents captures them in their zone. It’s their wedding anniversary and they’re waltzing. Both are looking directly at the camera, still smiling after 40 years of wedded bliss. They’re definitely in their element.

They enjoyed dancing. When King’s Ballroom was still operating in Norfolk, the ‘rents were waltzing around the dance floor. Other couples stopped as Dad and Mom sashayed to the strains of big band tunes, offering an ovation to the young couple when the melody slowed to a stop.

Dad’s heart slowed to a stop, Thursday, at 3:21 p.m. Laurie, Scott and I were by his side. I am hoping when Dad walked through the pearly gates of heaven, on New Year’s Eve, he and Mom celebrated his entrance with a waltz. It would be fitting.

On Christmas Day, we had a two-hour visit, sharing conversation and gifts. We FaceTimed with one of the granddaughters and her children. He seemed in good spirits, despite being tired.

On Sunday, I received a call that Dad wasn’t doing well. He said he felt wore out, despite recovering from COVID. Scott and I visited again Monday evening and he struggled to stay awake. By Tuesday morning, he spiked a fever. Talking took effort and Dad’s fragile body could not say more than a few words at a time before he would drift back to sleep.

A funny moment happened Wednesday afternoon, though. Jeopardy came on. It is one of Dad’s favorite shows. When he still lived at home, and even at the care center, we would watch an episode when I would visit.

One of Wednesday’s categories was poetry and another dealt with chemistry. I squeezed Dad’s hand and told him we should rock the poetry questions. We did. Then, I answered a chemistry question.

“Neon,” I said, to which Dad clearly said, in his teacher voice, “No.”

“Phosphorous,” I countered.

“Yes.” There’s that steel-trap mind, you know, the one that never forgets anything, at least when it comes to long-term memories.

Life without my dad will never be the same. He loved sports, especially Nebraska athletics and St. Louis Cardinals baseball. He could spend hours discussing Husker football.

He enjoyed movies. His grandmother and parents ran The Empress Theater in Wausa, so he grew up watching some of the most iconic films of the 1930s and 1940s.

He was a life-long educator, always reading a book or magazine or newspaper. In his youth, he read comic books and stored them in a box when finished. Those boxes of comics eventually found their way into the hands of a collector and the Lamont Larson comic collection became the third largest collection in the world. A video tribute from a fellow collector is posted on SAM’s Facebook Page, if you are interested in the story. It’s a good one.

And, he was an avid fan of aviation history. About 10 years ago, we took a trip to Grand Island to see a fleet of World War II airplanes. The P-51 was his favorite. Trust me, he could tell you everything about it.

I regret we never got around to writing the non-fiction crime book we planned. And, I will regret not spending even more time with him when he graced this earth.

I feel blessed to have grown up with parents who encouraged us to be practical and pushed us to dream for the stars. They expected hard work and taught us how to kick back and relax. They valued a strong education and showed us the world when we traveled.

Dad demanded punctuality, a trait I exhibited, until I became a working mama. I’m still working on refining that trait.

I watched my mom die of cancer nearly six years ago. Now, I watched Dad take his last breath. You always believe your parents will live forever, be your constant protector. They may no longer be here physically, but their presence will always remain, watching every step I take.


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