He passed in March of 2003, around the 11th (not sure of the exact date). He had just turned 86.
It's funny, but one of my favorite memories of him came the day he asked me to drive him to the nursing home. First, we sang at least one of his favorite songs ("The Wabash Cannonball") on the way there. When we got in the neighborhood of the place, I realized I was low on gas. I stopped at the gas station, got out and started pumping.
Suddenly, the truck started rocking back and forth, and I wondered for a second if we were having an earthquake. Then I looked into the back window of the truck and realized it was my dad. I'd had to force him to wear a seatbelt (it's the law), and he didn't know how to get out of it! Afraid he'd use his knife on it, I ran around, opened his door and got him out safely (with no harm to the seatbelt).
To me, that was a good day and a bad day; I didn't want him to go into the place.
P.S.: I know you are wondering about the knife. My dad would cut the child-proof lids off pill bottles when he couldn't open them. I was afraid he'd do the same to my seatbelt. Fortunately, he didn't get the chance.
More blog entries by Tom Gillispie
• Advice for be and would-be novelists
Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie
Entries from The Dog Blog
Blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)