In over the past year, my family – including myself – have experienced some important changes that’ve already affected us, and will continue to do so, not only in the coming year, but also beyond that. For yours truly, it’ll mean eventually moving out of my parents’ home – where I’ve lived for virtually all my life – and moving into an apartment that’ll be, in some respects, easier to maintain than a three-floor house that’s been standing ever since my family moved to Winsted, Connecticut in the late-summer of 1956.
Twenty years ago today, my family experienced yet another major change that continues to resonate even today. When my mother, Elizabeth J. Lavernoich, and myself woke up on the morning of November 17, 1994, Charlotte Hungerford Hospital (located in Torrington, Connecticut) phoned us and gave us the sad news that we knew couldn’t be avoided: namely, the fact that my father, Alphonse P. Lavernoich, died at about 7a.m. that same day. The news saddened not only my family, but also those who loved and respected my father during his thirty-eight years in Winsted – which included his twenty-eight years as a history teacher at the Pearson School in Winsted.
For not only my family, but also those who were very close to him, my father’s death marked the end of a decade-long ordeal – which began on July 2, 1984 (my mother’s 57th birthday), when my father suffered a crippling stroke which, in effect, ended his teaching career. Between that warm July morning in 1984 and the cold November morning over twenty years later, what happened during the last ten years of Father’s life was both difficult and heartbreaking, and not just for us – we knew the vibrant person that Father was when my brothers and I were growing up was gone forever. In addition, we felt sorry for not only Father, but also his grandchildren at that time (Edward and Patti’s daughters weren’t yet born) – and what might have been if Father hadn’t suffered a stroke. But then, nobody – including God – truly knows when tragedy will strike someone we love and look up to, and how it’ll change virtually everything for us.
My father’s death wasn’t the only tragedy to affect us as 1994 was coming to a close – my father’s youngest sister (and my aunt) Irene “Bingo” Redfern was already grappling with the fact that her husband (and my uncle) Herbie had terminal cancer (and would die not long after Father passed away). I’m sure that while they were several differences between not only my parents’ own marriage, but also that of Bingo and Herbie, as well as several of my other uncles and aunts (on both sides of my family) – definitely had much in common, including the fact that those marriages were very long and successful, partly because of the love and devotion that defined them.
And now, my mother’s in the twilight of her life, as my family and I can only guess what might lie ahead for her. At the same time, my generation is already wondering about our own future, as we almost near the half-century mark of our lives, while knowing all too well that our parents’ generation is already fading away. I can only hope that the generation that my parents belonged to will live on, not only in memory – but also because of what they accomplished during their lifetimes, as well as encouraging my generation (and today and tomorrow’s) to move forward. To which I can only say – amen.
©2014 John Lavernoich & Highroad Productions, Inc.