My Dad, John Albert Starnes Sr. died today at 6:02 PM in his sleep on morphine pain medication with a favorite CNA, Shalimar, at his side, the CNA that he was delighted to learn 2 days ago would be adopting his beloved Buffy and Mindy who've been living mostly alone in his yard for 9 months now. He's had a hellish year medically, but before that he had a year in good health free from Mom's cruelty and control since she died May 28, 2010, and thus got to attend Cousin Mike's barbecues, reconnect with family and friends and create a whole new life core of happy independence. In the nursing home he came out of his shell further and discovered he was a social being after all and made friends with both staff and residents, where he was very much liked. Plus of course there was the blessing of his 7 month romance with Mary (attached is that great shot I got of them a few weeks ago) that did them both wonders. Mary will be crushed. I'm giving her his wedding band plus photos of him as a young man as she has told me a few times that she SO wished that they could have met a long time ago. Dad and I have gotten along well for years, with him long ago accepting my homosexuality and enjoyment of cannabis, and he was wonderfully supportive of my romance with Dino that ended late October in 2010. But it was on our first of three road trips to Key West we took in 2004 to see his brother Les in Miami and his sister Ola Mae on Big Pine Key that we became friends (attached is a pic of him and me at that Key West landmark). And over the last two years we plainly told each other we were proud of each other and why. He always had a veggie garden, and I know that he and my Great Aunt Ella in Michigan were prime catalysts for gardening ending up being central to my life. People have been telling me for a while that the next several months will be busy and intense for me, but once the dust settles a bit I'd love to have a potluck barbecue party at Cousin Mike's in Okeechobee in his honor, plus have a potluck here at my place. He wanted no service, told me years ago to sell his and Mom's burial plots as he wished to be cremated. I'll give good intuitive thought as to a great memorial ritual for his ashes. MANY heartfelt thanks to the folks who for the last year have shared with me their own stories about loss and hope and grief, who've provided tangible help, like Pat with my poultry, who've offered, gently, advice on both matters of the heart and practical issues, and to some TRULY wonderful nurses and CNAs and two stellar doctors at the nursing home and Raulerson Hospital next door who LISTENED to Dad and showed genuine empathy and compassion to us both. Attached is a great pic of Dad as a 21 year old Navy enlistee, him and his sister Ola Mae on one of our visits to Big Pine Key, one of him and Mom and me as a baby in our apartment on Catherine Street in Key West in August 1953, and of us attending Archie and Vicki's Christmas gathering in 2010 here in Tampa, which Dad relished. Thanks to my friends and family who have supported and guided me on this journey that am honored to have shared with Dad. He was a decent, hard working, loyal and loving man with a great sense of humor. I will miss him but am glad that he is no longer suffering. Thank heavens he met Mary as a wonderful measure of sweet poetic justice at the end of his long, hard life. John
Dad passed away Saturday, June 16 at 6:02 PM. He will be missed.