If I close my eyes; in memory of my father
The passing of Dr. Ed Kornblue, DDS: a husband, father, grandfather, friend, protector, provider, photographer, tennis partner, captain, coach, dentist, and true blue Michigan man
If I close my eyes, I see him walking up the front stairwell after a day at work. He was the first one down that staircase each morning to get the paper and later, to take us to school. With brown leather briefcase in hand, Dad would always be one step ahead of us getting out the door. I hear the sound of his car engine roar in the carport beneath my bedroom as he pulled the car out, ready to go. The morning drive was his thing – his role in the school day commute and something he thoroughly enjoyed (except of course, for the moments he was holding his hand on the car horn for what seemed like an eternity when some other driver cut him off).
If I close my eyes, I see his crisp white US Navy captain’s uniform, the one he wore in his early days of dentistry as he treated sailors and other officers on battleships that sailed the world. He wore that suit proudly through the years as a Blue & Gold Officer helping future midshipmen with the admissions process… and he wore it proudly when I called him to duty on Veteran’s Day at my children’s preschool. Not sure who was more proud that day – Pa Blue, me or the kiddos.
If I close my eyes, I open them to his camera flash – “Dr. Video” he was often called, filming and snapping away to capture the big moments, the little moments and so many moments in between. What he did not create on video through our lifetime, he created on slides. He taught me how to appreciate a picture… and like him, take thousands of them.
If I close my eyes, I am sitting on his broad shoulders catching a ride up and down our favorite Smoky mountain so that we could enjoy a good summer swim at the lake. He never hesitated to jump in the cold water with us by day or roast a warm marshmallow with us by night.
If I close my eyes, we are all sitting on a chairlift in the Rocky Mountains. This dentist was picky about what candy we ate… but when skiing, a good Snickers bar boost of energy on the chairlift was warmly welcomed. Not sure I loved him making us eat oatmeal each morning before a day of ski, but now that I’m a parent I must agree – that, too, was a good idea.
If I close my eyes, I stand on the baseline of the tennis court and at second base on the softball field as he shouts at me to ‘get ready’ and ‘keep an eye on the ball.’ At times, I moaned and groaned as he dragged me out there, but I will be forever grateful that he did. Grateful that he made me pick a sport to play at age 5, that he put me on the boys team cause the girls would draw too many pictures in the sand, and that he refereed and even coached us along the way… even if it took his patience and some bad words right out of him.
If I close my eyes, I see him sitting in the den. His “wolverine den” - the home office where he meticulously organized his earnings to make our lives and studies better. He had a tough upbringing in the Bronx and worked so hard to get to where he was and become who he was; the first full-time dentist in Boca Raton, a dentist on staff at the Boca Raton Community Hospital, a strong community and charity supporter, a tennis match champion and a fiesty and oh-so-fun friend to so many who, together, helped make Boca Raton the wonderful city it has become.
If I close my eyes, I join him and his longtime dental partner and friend at lunch in their office. I feel so big helping the girls make Dad’s lunchtime tray of fruit, cottage cheese and coffee yogurt of all things. I’m pretty sure he had one Dannon coffee yogurt each day of his life and I made sure that continued to his very last day, as hard as it was to find that brand at our local grocery stores.
If I close my eyes, I see the crowd of dear friends tailgating while cheering on one of dad’s very best friends playing Royal Palm Polo...
I hear the cackles of laughter at the holiday dinner tables with family... and friends that feel like family.
I hear so many other joyous sounds like the water moving beneath his friend’s sailboat called Chardonnay…
and the engine of the Woodie we all got to ride around Cape Cod…
and the shouts for the Wolverines we cheered for in Ann Arbor...
and the horses we rooted on at the Derby...
and I certainly hear the sounds of the glasses clinking in joy from the Sunshine State to Sun Valley.
If I close my eyes, I can feel the tears that ran down my face when he yelled at me. He could roar like a lion, but he could also love me and comfort me better than anyone I know. We laughed together. We cried together. We traveled, walked and shared stories together. He valued my stories in person and on-air, a proud father who recorded each news piece I reported on and each show I anchored.
If I close my eyes, I can see the joy in his face when I told him something exciting or called to share some good news – at any age and stage, about me or my husband, my kids or my friends. I smell his victory cigars and can taste the Scottish and Irish whiskies he would hold up high.
If I close my eyes, I see him turning on the hallway light to protect me from the dark. I see him reaching for that mango high up on the tree and the key limes way down low. I hear him making that first pot of coffee each morning and that last cocktail each night. I hear him reading stories to me and later, his grandchildren… and when the time came, the grandchildren reading stories to him.
If I close my eyes, I can see the love in his heart and confusion in his brain as he experienced memory loss and all that comes with it. I can feel his hand holding mine as I lay next to him. He says “I love you. No matter what happens.”
That day and every day, I say it right back.
I love you, Dad. No matter what happens… and no matter where you are.
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