My dear old Grandpa Dom passed away two days ago. He was 89 years old and was surrounded by family, including all 5 of his children (one of them my mom) and my grandma, his wife of 62 years. He lived a long and happy life and I will miss him very, very much.
Needless to say, my dad and I are temporarily off the trail. We got the word that he didn’t have a lot of time left while we were setting up camp for the night at the “Fontana Hilton” shelter Saturday evening. We were relieved that we had cell service, that we were near a road and not too far from an airport. Had we not taken an easy day, we may not have been reachable, or at least not had road access for another couple of days. Though my dad and I did all that we could in order to get back to Rochester in time to say goodbye, Grandpa passed away Sunday afternoon while we were en-route, waiting for a connecting flight in DC.
We are grateful to be able to be home right now with my mom, brother and the rest of our family to share in the memories and in the grieving. Being the oldest of his 6 grandkids, I feel blessed to have had him in my life for so long. He was so supportive of all of us, always coming to our school events, our running meets, baseball and basketball games and so proud of us when we did good in school and in life. Though always concerned with our health, safety and the temperature of our feet if we walked around barefoot, he never discouraged any of us kids from following our dreams. And he was always good for 5 bucks for coffee and doughnuts for my drive back to college or back to Brooklyn.
I only seem to remember him being retired, spending his time surrounding himself with family and making sure we all had enough dessert. But he worked for Kodak for many years, (like all Rochesterians of his age), was in WWII (like all men of his age), and even played some minor league baseball in his day. Life isn’t going to be the same without him around.
Thank you to our fellow hikers at the “Hilton” – Hi-5, Blaze, Snickers, Ice Cream, Zippers and Stretch – you were all so kind to Long Time and me as we were fumbling around with our gear and trying to figure out what to do. Thanks also to Nancy and Jeff at The Hike Inn in Fontana Dam for housing our packs and shuttling us to Asheville on such short notice. We will see you all again soon, as we plan to be back on the trail Tuesday the 5th, rested and ready for the Smokies.
For anyone in the Rochester, NY area, calling hours are this Thursday 5-8pm at Paul W. Harris Funeral Home, 570 Kings Hwy. South. Same place for the funeral service on Friday at 11:30am. Interment to follow at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be directed to the Scott LaFaro Memorial Award, 649 South Exchange St., Geneva, NY 14456 or St. John’s Home Foundation, 150 Highland Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620.