My father passed away today in Oregon, after a long spell with Alzheimer's. Just 3 weeks shy of his 89th birthday. We were not that close/a little close. My parents split when I was 2, he had gone off to Israel to live on a kibbutz, and she had decided to keep the kids in New York. he was a bit of a dreamer, well, a lot of a dreamer, maybe that was part of the split.
Both my mother and Dave remarried, she to an artist she had a tempestuous relationship with, he to a wonderful woman he'd met at the same job where he met my mother. When we lived in New York, he was around regularly, though I think he was away for some long trips for photography. I remember weekly visits, and gifts of models and toys.. probably the gun in this picture that he shot (the icon). He had another son when I was 7 or 8, only one child.
When I was 9, fourth grade, my stepfather packed us off to Rome, Italy where he could be an artist (composer of modern orchestral music) and Dave took his family off to Japan where he had a concept for a sociological photo-essay. Our trip was shortened due to finances (damned Guggenheims, or maybe it was my parents' budgeting skills), while Dave and his family stayed in Nagano-Ken for 8 years. The photo-essay was left uncompleted, though I believe the layout exists and the negatives are there to be printed. They became potters and moved to the Oregon coast.
While they lived in Japan, we spoke once a month by phone. Although they lived a very frugal existence, they were generous with gifts and an occasional letter- I still have some of the art books he sent.
After they returned and moved to Oregon, we kept in touch as I grew up. Talking at birthdays and holidays, usually, and I would visit. Maybe 6 or 7 times since the 70's.
Anyway, he has had a slow decline over the past 15 years. He lost his sight, suffering cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. It took him several years to learn to use the books on tape that are provided to blind people. And over the past few years he has been more and more befuddled.
I'm grateful to the side of the family that grew up with him that they helped him be comfortable in his decline. He was a pretty strident atheist and not a believer in the afterlife, but sometimes it is good to pass when the body is played out. He will be remembered.
PS No arrangements yet for a service. He will be cremated. I don't have a photo of him, other than one from my last visit, and he explicitly asked me not to share that.