My Favorite Irishman – James Joseph Havey

Some blog posts take longer to write than others. Some blog posts are written in a matter of minutes. Some take hours or perhaps days. This blog post has taken me months to write.Dad and Me in 1961

You see, in February of this year my Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and he passed away less than 4 months later, on May 31. In January I would have not understood if you would have told me this sequence of events would have a profound effect on me.

I have not written a blog post since April. I even considered giving up the blog altogether.

So why no posts? Oh sure, things were a little crazy and I was extra busy, but there’s more to it than that. The whole month of June seemed to be non-existent. By July I was getting back on track and learning to live with my ‘new normal’. By August and now September I’m adjusting. However it doesn’t take much and thoughts of Dad and his last days pop back into my head and I must quickly shake them away.

The reason for not writing has nothing to do with time or content or desire. I have felt all this time that my first post had to be about my Dad and until I was ready to write that post, I couldn’t write anything else. I had to fill in the missing piece first.

For me, the hardest part about the last few months of Dad’s life is that I thought he was going to get better and we’d have at least a couple more years with him. That is probably why I still find it hard to believe it all happened so fast and he is gone.

As the Brewers are having a fantastic season and most certainly headed for the play-offs, I wish Dad was around to share in the excitement. A few weeks ago they turned a triple play and I wanted to call him to make sure he was watching the game.

Tonight I am finishing this post after an amazing 1st game of the Packers’ season. It’s a fitting time to be writing about my Dad. He was a long-time Packers fan, through thick and thin. I’ll always remember watching games with him when I was young. Mind you, I wouldn’t watch the full game, I’d just stop in now and then and bug him with questions about what was happening. He never told me to go away or acted annoyed with my dopey questions. I’m so glad he got to see the Packers win the Super Bowl one last time the weekend before the cancer diagnosis was confirmed. I had no idea that would be his last Super Bowl; it never crossed my mind.

Dad struggled with Macular Degeneration for many years and gave up driving several years ago when it became too dangerous for him to get behind the wheel. Dad 2005 casino winnerMacular Degeneration is a terrible disease that slowly steals the victim’s vision. With special glasses and a 42” TV, Dad could sort of see his favorite teams play, but he struggled. Somehow though, he was still able to see well enough to go to the Casino (thanks to Mom driving him to the bus) and he always knew his exact winnings and losses. He had an amazing memory and was great with numbers. I’m sure I get my analytical thinking from him.

In his younger days, Dad was an avid hunter. I chose the photo with me holding the pheasant because it’s simply the perfect representation of many fond childhood memories.

Dad was with us long enough to celebrate with Mom their 57th Wedding Anniversary on May 15th. I’m really glad they had that day together, with 5 of their 6 children and many grandchildren home to help them celebrate. We are what we are because of them. And we all turned out pretty darn good! Thanks Dad (and Mom). You can be proud of us.

Dad was very proud of his Irish heritage and was fortunate to travel to Ireland twice after he retired and while his vision was still good. My brother Tom wrote on Facebook the day Dad died, “My Favorite Irishman left the planet today. While he never ventured too far from the Rosendale WI farmhouse he was born in, I still am envious, in ways, of his life. Served in the Army during Korea times, worked his whole career as a machinist in Fond du Lac. His stories really kept alive the family roots, going all the way back to County Longford. I am lucky to be your kid, Dad!”

My brother Michael did a great job writing Dad’s obituary so I want to share the last paragraph of it here.

“James Joseph Havey had a life that most of us can only hope to aspire to. He had a good job, a large, loving family, and a place to call home. He had an incredible mind and had his health until the very end. As a family, we grieve our loss, but we also celebrate a life well lived. May your vision be clear, and your steps be strong. May the deer be slow, and the coffee always hot. May you bask in the warmth of God’s love.”

I miss you Dad!

Written by Laura on September 9, 2011