It has been 4 days now, and I am still no closer to writing coherent thoughts about my Father- In- Law. He passed away Tuesday night at about 6:45 PM. Up until about 1 ½ – 2 years ago, Al was as hearty and hale as a 70+ year old man could be. Even the past few years, he was physically fine, he just began to be a little more forgetful and a little more “vague.” A month ago, at 78, he Mary and I took Lydia, his great granddaughter to the Great Escape amusement park. He rode every ride he wanted to, including the looping roller coasters and the one that drops you straight down at high speed. He walked Mary and I into the ground that day, never complaining at all except about the high prices of food and souvenirs!
Two weeks ago, he began getting some back and leg pain; turns out he was starting to get some arthritis. Last Monday, the 25th, he had a trip over to Burlington to get a consult on some issues with his gall bladder. On the way home, he began to get nauseous. We had he and Lydia stay over with us to keep an eye on things that night. The next morning, he began vomiting blood. We called the ambulance and got him down to CVPH Medical Center. After a long day of fluids, transfusions and trying to stop his internal bleeding, his strong, strong heart gave up. Per his prior instructions, he was not resuscitated.
I met Ellsworth “Al’ Lashway back in 1981 when I began dating his daughter, Mary. I don’t think he was too impressed with me at first (what father is?). But over the years, both he and his wife grew to love me as I loved them and their daughter. He never failed to help us when we needed it. No matter if it was helping us move in 90 degree heat, trying to fix a car, building a deck, or helping to unfreeze water or fuel pipes in 20 degree below weather, he was there for us. Just over a month ago, he mowed the lawn for Mary and I, unasked, because it was “something to do.”
He worked as a pipe fitter and maintenance man for Georgia Pacific for over 30 years, and served in the Navy before that, as a boiler man on the USS Saratoga. I have never known a more hard working man. He had a number of hobbies over the years that I knew him, including raising and racing homing pigeons, going ice fishing, and riding his beloved motorcycles. He loved swimming and he got such a dark tan each summer, I was sure the man’s skin was going to turn into leather.
Eight years ago, his granddaughter got pregnant and was practically abandoned by her family. Al and his wife Mary, took her in and helped her get prenatal care and tried to help her with her addictions. Once Lydia was born, Al & Mary, from day one, raised her as if she were their own child. Doctor’s appts, food, clothes, haircuts, toys, all taken care of by Mary and Al. 3 Years ago, Mary passed away and left Al to care for Lydia alone. He never hesitated. Since the courts awarded him custody, he unfailingly and with great love, raised Lydia into a beautiful and intelligent little girl. Ellsworth said many times that were it not for Lydia, he would have just “hung it up.”
Although Al and I differed politically, I respected the man a great deal and I am proud to call him my friend as well as my Father- In- Law. Mary and I are trying for custody of young Lydia and we hope to step into Al’s mighty hard to fill shoes and raise Lydia as one of our own the way he did.
Rest easy, Mr. Lashway. Your burdens are now ours. Your family will miss you, but we know you are reunited with the love of your life, Mary. You two are “Together Again Forever.”
“Carried gently on the wings of the Valkyrie,
Borne happily over the Bifrost,
Seated at Odin’s right hand in the Halls of Valhalla,
Know that you have battled long enough,
Know that you are home now, and forever,
Know that we will all see you again,
and feast, drink and laugh for all time,
until the end of all.”
Love you Pop!
Ellsworth “Al” Charles Lashway
May 26th 1939 – September 26th 2017