Go hug your dad

Last night my stepfather, Joe Winterhawk, passed away. He was a victim of early onset Alzheimer’s, and it took eight, long tragic years of terrible decline to finally end. In his younger days he was a WSU frat boy, then a nuclear physicist. He loved to sail with my mom on their Columbia 42. He loved good food and wine. His customary toast was "To the Good Life." In the last year he was reduced to wearing diapers and being unable to speak, feed himself or recognize his family.
When Joe started dating my mother I was a rude and snotty 11 year old brat. Joe never was nasty in return. Instead, he always saw the good in me. When I grew up I realized that he made my mom happy, and that’s all that mattered.
If your dad is still around give him a big hug. If he’s far away, give him a call. If he lives close by, take him out for a cheeseburger and have a nice long talk. Thank him for loving and supporting you and teaching you how to get along in this world.
Thank you to the good people at Bessie Burton Sullivan Skilled Nursing Center and Mercer Island Care Center for taking care of Joe in his final year and a half. The people who do this work are saintly beyond belief.


  1. Truly sorry to read this Trixie.  My thoughts go out to your mother, your family and yourself.

  2. My condolences go out to you and your family. Death is quite possibly the greatest teacher about life that we will ever experience. It can make the smallest things that we quibble over in day to day life seem so trivial.
     I have no doubt that Joe has taught you life lessons that are immeasurable and perhaps some are still completely unrealized. You and your family will become stronger during this trying time.   

  3. My thoughts are with you and all those affected by this terrible loss. Whilst it isn’t much consolation remember that wherever he is, he is himself again and watching you all with pride and love.

  4. Looks like you had a very good reason to not be in your office yesterday–sorry if I was an ass.
    You know that I’ve, um, had similar issues in recent months and if there is anything you need I am click away on Windows Messenger.

  5. I am sorry for your loss.My dad was never really around me as my parents separated when I was 3 months-old… However, blood is not something you can ignore. I can’t say I miss someone I never really met, but he is and stays my father anyway. I can only hope he is doing fine…..

  6. Trixie, I’m so sorry for the loss of your stepfather.
    My stepfather is an incredible inspiration to me and has been more of a father to me than my "real" father ever was. We’ve had our problems but he never treated me as anything other than his actual daughter. You’ve made me want to call my dad and tell him how important he has been to me. Thanks.

  7. I am sorry for your loss.
    It´s sad that in situations like this is when we valorate what we have.
    Thanks for the reminder Trix!

  8. My grandmother passed away from Alzheimer’s, and I remember how difficult it was on my parents.  My heart goes out to you and your family.

  9. That sucks Trix. 😦
    If there’s anything I can do, just ask.
    About a month ago I felt like my time with my old man was starting to fade. He’s in good health but he’s old and smokes like crazy. I’ve taken upon myself to go on fishing trips, cook together, and just talk about his past. You would be surprised what you can learn from an older individual. I just want to feel like "I shoulda…." when he’s gone.
    K Rock

  10. My condolences Trixie. We lost Nana to Alzheimer’s on Mar. 21st after a similar, painful decline.

  11. I’m sorry for your loss Christa.  My father passed away suddenly when I was 15, but he remains in my heart to this day.  Loss, while a fact of life, is difficult, yet soothed with the memories of a good life liven.  It sounds like your stepfather did this and impacted you and those he was around greatly.  Give thanks for the good and forgive the bad and never forget.

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