Stephen D. Brekke and Stephen D. Brekke, Jr., 1955.
Stephen D. Brekke and Stephen D. Brekke, Jr., 1955.

That’s me and my dad and namesake, Stephen Daniel Brekke, back in 1955, when I was about a year or so old and he was 33 or 34. He was not a bad-looking guy, and he could rock a bow tie, as the young people say today. When my parents had this picture developed, they saw something they hadn’t noticed before — that something was amiss with my eyes. They took me to an ophthalmologist, and I was in glasses by the age of 18 months. But that’s another story.

Today’s story is that Dad died about 5 this afternoon, Chicago time. My sister, Ann, and my brothers, John and Chris, were with him when he went. Some of his grandkids had just visited. Chris’s wife, Patty, was there. A Lutheran minister, a fellow Norwegian-American, came in to say a prayer. John says his passing was as quiet, as peaceful, and as gentle as it could have been.

If this were a news story, we’d want to be getting to the cause of death. I think I hit upon the right description the other day: the weight of his ninety-plus years finally bore down on him. He’d had pneumonia. And emphysema. And crippling arthritis that virtually froze his knee joints and robbed him of his mobility. And a form of dementia that denied him the ability to communicate freely. And finally, congestive heart failure. Ann’s husband, Dan–the two of them were my dad’s primary caretakers for the last three years or so of his life and his main lifeline since our mom died nine years ago–reminded me that my dad never complained.

And he didn’t. If you asked him if he was in pain or uncomfortable, he’d come out with some formulation like, “I can’t say that I am.” It wasn’t until a month or so ago that Ann asked him if he was hurting after suffering an arm abrasion and he said, “I hurt all over.”

Bye, Pop. We miss you already. But we’re glad you’re not hurting any longer.

11 Replies to “Pop”

  1. Hey, Pete: Thanks. I’m glad I got back there when I did. This was a release for him, and he gave us kids a lot to remember and think about, a lot of good memories and some tough ones, too. I”ll give you a call instead of us having to do this Typepad comment communication.

  2. Gosh Dan, I haven’t seen that photo since we were living on Oakhill Dr. What a great picture.
    Your description of Pop is pretty right on. And what a list of maladies. The guy was a stoic in the every sense. A Norwegian stoic.

  3. A lovely tribute to your father.
    My heartfelt sympathies go out to all of you. I’m a college classmate of Ann’s. I’m glad Mr. Brekke is finally at peace and with his wife.

  4. Beautifully said. You have an amazing family – and so much of that “amazingness” comes from your incredible parents. I still remember my first time meeting them on Sheridan back when I was dating Tim. Beautiful, warm people who were so genuinely interested in and cared about those around them. I’m very thankful to have known them. My thoughts remain with you all.

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