Friday, April 4, 2014, marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King was born on my mother’s birthday, Jan. 15, and was killed on my dad’s birthday. Dad would have been 104 today.
The recent death of one of my wife’s aunt made me ponder the many funerals I will, if blessed to be able to, attend in the coming decade; and that I am very blessed that so many special people in my life are still around today.
Janet Wyant was a true blessing to our family; it’s almost a cruel twist of fate that the last good thing she was able to do was help us tremendously, and then she was gone. After KBTN ceased its news department and my former employment, and then promises of a similar gig fell through, then my wife became unable to work, things got ugly. If not for Aunt Janet and other “angels” who dropped out of Heaven at just the right time during our tough time, I would no longer have my home; and without that anchor, probably would not be here today. As soon as we stabilized and were able to pay her back, she learned of the cancer that quickly took her.
With her recent death, I can’t help but think how it will revisit me in the coming years, and the many trips and time off from work that will entail.
We said “goodbye” to Dad in 1992. Mom is now 92; and at her big 90th birthday party, made plans for 100, but doesn’t plan to be around long after that. I only hope her plans work out. Her only surviving brother and my final uncle on Earth is 94. Uncle Ralph has a special affinity for me, which is returned, as I’ve heard the story many times that just about an hour after his baby sister gave birth to me, he went on his first date with Aunt Marian, who became his wife within the year.
All of William S. Horvath’s 10 children — except for Steve who died as a newborn long before I was ever a consideration — are still around. I knew when I saw Bill, Jr. at Mom’s 90th, who has lived in Chicago since I was about 10, it would be the last time. He’s about 85. Of my other half-siblings, Mary Jane is just a couple of years younger. One of the earliest images I have seen of myself is while I was protected by a diaper tent on the sunny shores of Lake Michigan while visiting Mary Jane during the summer of 1958 (No, I don’t remember it). Betty Ann, one of the few in the family to actually stay in the St. Louis area, is a few years younger than her.
Mom’s oldest, Richard, will be 65 this year, and her youngest of six, Frank (my only younger sibling), just turned 54; and we’re spread out all over, based in Cincinnati, South Florida, two in Denver, and two in Missouri. I have a bunch of cousins I grew up with in the St. Louis area who are a little older or a little younger than me; and I’ve even got nephews who are older than me, and nieces who are close behind. We can’t all live to be 90.
While looking at what is fading, I must also feel the blessings of the future and see what’s coming into its own from behind. My three stepsons have brought me four granddaughters and three grandsons; and two of them are my wonderful “daughters.” It’s hard to consider the boys as “stepsons” since I am the only dad they’ve ever known.
But, looking at reality, I felt it wise to warn my new employers; and I need to figure out how to save the funds for what will be many future trips, to prepare to say “goodbye” for the last time to many people who have been a part of making Dave Horvath what he is today.
Dave Horvath is a staff writer for the Daily News.