Why did you stay in Columbus?

Everything about Columbus, Ohio is home for me.

When I was younger, I wouldn’t have considered moving because I was too close to my dad. I have so many memories of him in this city. When he was 92, I remember sitting together on his porch swing during a crisp spring evening. With tea in my hand and a pipe lackadaisically hanging from his mouth, we swang back and forth, listening to the creak of the swing and smelling the aroma of pipe smoke mixed with beef stew through the open window.

He said, “Well, I am starting to get old. If I don’t make it to Alaska this year, I not going to get to go.”

Talking about death is never pleasant, and I felt myself fighting tears as the truth of his words hung in the air. Neither of us said another word, and luckily, the dinner bell rang.

I talked to my husband that night, and he lovingly agreed that I should take my dad on an Alaskan Cruise.

Several months later, my dad and I flew into Seward, Alaska and boarded a Royal Caribbean ship for our Alaskan Cruise. He was the oldest person on the ship, and he was famous by the end of the cruise. People waved to us, call him daddy (like I did) or dad, and ask when he was planning on pipe smoking next. Smokers and non-smokers filled up the designated area to smell one of his many tobacco flavors and hear his stories.

Our time in Alaska was unforgettable. I could hardly keep up with him! I remember, he would wake me up at 4:00 a.m. so we could watch every Alaskan sunrise. Looking back, I am glad I had those extra hours with Daddy, and I am thankful we got to witness those masterpieces painted in the sky together.

His health started to decline the next year. I remember sitting in the sterile doctor’s office listening to their conversation about his health, and his pipe smoking habit came up. However, after the doctor learned he had been smoking since he was 14, he didn’t argue about the habit. Daddy wouldn’t have stopped anyway.