Dad’s Birthday – A Bit More

Dad enjoyed working with his hands and the business gave him something where he felt he made people happy with his products.  He was much happier working in his business, his blood pressure went down a lot as the business  grew.  He did have health challenges – a heart attack around 1979 that neither Mom and Dad saw coming.  I was in new Jersey at the time and it was a real shock – I realized my parents wouldn’t always be there as I had assumed.  Plus, it was difficult to be on the other side of the country.  But Dad bounced back and began walking every day, Mom was always there with him.  In later years he had two bouts with colon cancer and continued to work.  If he didn’t have the business to focus on, he may not have done as well.

He was losing his hearing, all that time in the aircraft industry didn’t help.  I remember when I was working at Boeing at the same time he was, we would ride to work together – he left half an hour early for me and I waited half an hour for him.  I remember one day he took me next door to the factory – I had to cover my ears because the noise was so loud.  There’s Dad, no hands to his ears, pointing out things to me.  The noise didn’t bother him after all those years but I was ringing and vibrating for quite a while after that.

Dad was  very patient when I was learning to drive, though he did say I was only a paint layer away from that bus on the hill.   We started out in Highline High parking lot after school, there were sports games going on so I soon had an opportunity to drive opposite other cars.  I finally graduated and he said it was time for me to be on the road.  So I drove us home.  When it came to parallel parking, he put two of the four cars along the driveway so I could practice.  it never has been my strong suit, though more often than not I surprise myself and put it in the slot the first time.  When it came time for my younger sister Candy to learn, he told her to learn at school.  After teaching Mom, Ellen and me, he had done his job.  Do you suppose it was teaching me and the bus incident that made him decide?

When I was growing up, I used to help him in the garage when he was fixing cars.  Not that I did all that much, but I did learn things from him.  I also helped him fiberglass the outside of the wood hulled 18′ Mukilteo hull he and Mom bought for family outings.  (That was a story in itself).  We put the fiberglass cloth onto the hull, then there was the resin we painted on the cloth.  I remember painting over Dad’s hand at one point, we both laughed and continued on with the job.  He didn’t get upset if things didn’t go perfectly the first time, he was patient and had fun with it.

Dad loved to talk; we had lots of conversations about a lot of things.  He told stories of growing up and some of the things he did before he met Mom.  A lot of times it was about people he knew, family stories and what Mom and Dad were doing in the business.  He would strike up conversations with strangers – Mom said he could be at the Grand Canyon and find someone to talk to about things in common.  That actually happened.  He enjoyed people and  treated everyone the same.  I tend to take after him.  Eddie and I were in the grocery while living in Torrance one day.  I went over to the produce department for something and heard a couple by the lettuce.  They were commenting it didn’t look all that well.  I said “Excuse me, there is a Japanese vegetable stand just down on PCH and they have wonderful stuff.  And they don’t charge an arm and a leg.”   They were very appreciative and thanked me; I left to go back to Eddie.

When I came back, Eddie asked me “Who was that couple?”.  I told him “I don’t know.”  His comment was “You are definitely Sam Paull’s daughter”.   What is amazing is that my husband, who didn’t talk to strangers because he was brought up not to talk to people he hadn’t been introduced to, now after 45 years of the Paull family strikes up conversations with strangers.  Not to the point my Dad did, but he has definitely come a long way.  He and my Dad had a lot of fun together watching baseball, taking planes, cars and all kinds of things.  It was fun to come here and visit, the four of us would go off on adventures and have just as much fun at home.  We did the same thing when they came to visit us in some of the places we lived.

As the years went on his hearing got worse and he  struggled to find hearing aids that worked but didn’t buzz or send out a high-pitched sound when it wasn’t quite working right.  He had trouble hearing the tv, so it was loud when he watched and he was frustrated at not hearing conversations well.  He seemed a bit vague at times, but Mom told me he was sharp when it came to the business and working with the wood.  I remember one visit was an old man living here – wondered where this old man came from.  I realized it was my Dad, but he was in his 80’s at that point and not surprising in some ways.  But it came as a shock to me – I always think of my parents in their 50′ or 60’s, not old people.

I was up visiting on my annual summer visit and Dad took me to the transit Center to pick up a bus to the airport.  I was going to rent a car while I was there.  I remember he said “You mother is a wonderful woman” as I was getting out of the car.  I didn’t know that was the last time we talked together.  I rented the car and did the stuff I wanted to do and then came back here.  There was a note on the back door from Delores next door – I was to go next door as soon as I came home.  She much have seen me come home because she came over before I could do anything.  She told me they had taken Dad to the ER with a heart attack.  He and Bob had been talking while weeding the garden.  When Bob made a comment, he didn’t receive an answer from Dad, so he went to where Dad was weeding.  Bob found him slumped over in the flowerbed – he called Mom and they called 911.

I went to the ER with Delores and found Mom and Bob with Dad.  He had been resuscitated but they didn’t know how long he had been unconscious.  They put him on life support and I will be grateful the hospital never gave us hope he would recover.  It was a strange time because our niece Sandra was due that night to visit and I had to call Ellen and Candy to let them know what happened.  They flew out and I seem to remember making several trips to the airport to pick people up.  The one thing about Sandra being there was I couldn’t focus on myself, I needed to be there for her and that was a plus.   After they did all theists over 72 hours, they decided to pull the plug – Dad would not want to be on life support.  We decided to have an open house as a celebration of his life; we invited Mom’s friends, business friends, neighbors and other people who knew him. Dad was so loved by people, I think he would have been surprised to hear the wonderful things that were said about him.


Things keep popping up and I need to make a list to write another post sometime soon about those memories.

2 Responses to “Dad’s Birthday – A Bit More”

  1. Charlotte Trayer Says:

    It was great to read so much about your dad, Liz. Of course, I remember some of it, as I’m sure he told me things from time to time when I was there visiting you, and I know he showed me some of the wood products that he and your mom made–brackets to fit the Tupperware salt and pepper shakers, for instance!!

    He was a dear man.

    • Lee Kaplanian Says:

      It was an interesting experience, I thought I would do the highlights until I began to write. I found myself compelled to write as much as I could remember and in many ways a little sad but mostly a joy to remember what a wonderful Dad and man he was.

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