JACK: 1937 – 2012

“Bring me two sequential invoices and some hard candy!”  Those were the last words my dad said to me as his nurse began wheeling him off for a bronchoscopy.

The Invoices

Ever since my dad entered into the hospital rotation, right after Christmas 2011, I rapidly began training myself for the command chair at Pier Urethane.  It seemed that I was the likely candidate to assume this role, as I spent the most time working with him over the years.

Coincidentally when the Pneumonia hit, the company fax machine started to spit out purchase orders.  Companies my dad hadn’t heard from in years, all of a sudden needed parts.  My schedule quickly filled up.  The usual routine was to consult with my dad in the hospital and then go out and execute.    Even up to the end, he still had to be a part of the day-to-day operation of Pier Urethane.  It didn’t matter that I had filled out my fair share of invoices, he still felt the need to do it himself (while sitting in the Intensive Care Unit, with labored breathing and tubes coming out of his arms).

The Hard Candy

Over a four-month battle with a persistent cough, my dad dropped about 40+ pounds.   This weight loss made him weak.  I know I am stating the obvious here; however, what was interesting was where he became weak.  Aside from the expected muscle atrophy, the mechanism in his throat that allowed for swallowing and breathing also became weak.  As a result he began to aspirate liquids, which furthered the Pneumonia.  When the medical staff at Hoag Hospital figured this out, he was immediately ordered off all food and drink.  Nutrition was given intravenously.  Well, apparently when one is not allowed to drink liquids, one’s mouth becomes very dry.  My dad ordered me to bring him hard candy to help offset that problem (moisten the mouth by sucking on candy = problem solved).  Before I had a chance to execute that order, they wheeled him out to be intubated and sedated for the bronchoscopy.  He stayed that way for 10 days, slowly deteriorating, until my brother and I decided it was time to let him go.  My dad died at 7:38PM on Tuesday, March 6, 2012.

Ever since the madness began, my brother and I became “The Decider” on all things related to our dad (Pier Urethane and his estate).  That’s like combining a two-month concentrated course in medical, business and real estate with a treasure hunt.  There was a lot of:

  • What does that mean?
  • HOW MUCH DOES HE OWE?!
  • Where’s the mold for this job?
  • FUCK, this sucks!

Jack

My dad was a complex person (I’m guessing all dads are).  When everyone would go in one direction, he’d veer slightly off to a different direction.

He dad had the strength of Titans and the patience of Job.

He was a fan of sunsets and grandkids.

My dad enjoyed bellying up at Dukes.

Coors beer appointed him the Ambassador of Coors beer (ok, that’s a lie.  He appointed himself that title).

He was a friend with many.  He was also a cantankerous ass!

My dad taught me many things.

He was a good man.

I’ll miss him.

(We were a little sweaty from drinking beers in the jungle)

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40 comments
  1. Leslie said:

    Hi Sean,
    You, of course will not remember me at all. I saw you are a friend of my friend Suzie on fb and your name was so familiar, it took me a few minutes till I remembered your dad Jack with his dark hair, blue eyes and pipe! I was your babysitter!! Your dad used to drive me home after he and your mom went out and had fun with their friends for the night. For some reason I remember him wearing sweaters a lot during that time (maybe I babysat a lot on cold nights, Lol). I’m so sorry to see that he passed, I hope the rest of the family is doing well. I enjoyed looking through your work, it’s very eye-catching and graphic.

    Leslie

    • Hi Leslie. The pipe….that takes me back. Great smell in the house, lousy breath coming out of my dad.
      Back in those days they did a lot of fun things with their neighbors. During the funeral there was lots of reminiscing of those days.
      That’s a funny comment about my dad and his sweaters. He did have a nice collection.
      Anyhow, thank you for your kind words (and FB friend-ing). Talk to you later.

  2. Hilary Green said:

    HI Sean: We have never met but I was maid of honor at your parents’ wedding. The priest was tipsy and sent their rings flying when he went to gently douse them with holy water:) Then, I think I accidentally married their best man, when the priest had us sign in the wrong spot. I am so sorry to hear of your dad’s passing – my condolences to you and your brother. Hilary Green: HilaryGLV@aol.com. p.s. hoping to meet your mom for tea one of these days

    • Hi Hilary. THat’s pretty funny and very fitting for a DuFrene wedding. Considering that you were the Maid of Honor, do you still keep in touch with my mom?

      • Hilary said:

        Hi Sean: I thought you would enjoy some levity amidst your grief…glad you had a laugh. Trying to arrange a coffee with your mom…haven’t seen her for a very long time. Hope to meet you one if these days. Best, Hilary

      • Ya, the tipsy priest and flying rings was a great visual.
        Are you living in Las Vegas?

      • Hilary said:

        Yes…but working on summers elsewhere!

  3. Charles Bense said:

    So sad to hear of your loss. The last time I saw your dad was at our class reunion from Long Prairie MN high school. We looked forward to those get togethers The next one will never be the same. cebense@gmail.com

    • Hi Charles. Ya, He liked going out to those reunions. Pour a cold one for him at the next one. Take care.

      Sean

  4. Adrian Leroux said:

    Sean, you may or may not remember me as much as maybe my Dad and Mom given the relationship that your Mom and Dad had with them living right across the street from them for years. Juan and Estella have some great memories with your Dad on Shepard (Spell) lane. I too as a kid remember your Dad well as he was always willing to help my Mom when it came to taking care of my brother John and I (Adrian) when she went to the store etc. I remember the days that your Dad would allow for me to have a “sip” of his Coors when I was growing up…and I remember vividly the horrible taste of it etc. However that may have been my undoing since I’m a pretty big fan of drinking Beer. (Not too much of the Coors) With that every time I saw your Dad he was always with a Coors in hand…I haven’t seen him in years, but it seems like yesterday that he pulled up on his bike at my parents’ house to stop by and hang with my parents. Throughout the years I’ve lost track of your brother David, and you…but I seemed to always have a connection with your family as I went to school with Kelly, and even worked with Theresa at Target for many years…it was a sad day to hear about your Dad, and I must say my parents too are very saddened about his passing. I will forever miss him, and wish I had spent more time in my adult life hanging with him. I would have loved to have a Beer with him. My sincere condolence to you and your family on your Dad’s passing. Much Love from the Leroux family…oh and by the way the pictures that you took of him is exactly how I would have remembered him…RIP Jack. Adrian Leroux

    • Hi Adrian.
      Ha! Ya, he used to give me sips of his beer too. I think he gave it to all the kids on the block (LOL). I used to dig it. I remember it being a real thirst quencher.
      Anyhow, thanks for the kind words and walk down “Memory Lane.”
      Take care.

  5. Mike Glezos said:

    Sean – I’m in shock and can’t imagine what you must be feeling. My sincere condolences. Your father KICKED ASS! My heart and our families love goes out to you and your bro. Of course, we’ll attend – thank you for the invite. And we’re here for you if you need us for anything – including sharing that beer. Peace, Mike Glezos

  6. Don Bailey said:

    Sean,
    Sad day for all who knew him my best to you and your family.

  7. Al Craig said:

    Sean, Your Father was a one of a kind Man ,and to me that was very mush a good thing made him JACK .Your dad was always there for Mary and I ,in our times of need as well as the fun times . He loved his work and he was very good at it .I can think back to the times when we would be out in the garage solving all the worlds problems along with problems of both friends and family as well .well jack can know be once again with his sister,my wife and all the family members that have crossed over before your father ,now that gotta be a real get together !WELL GLAD TO SEE YOU OUR KEEPING THE PIER GOING my youngest son had worked with Jack on some project not sure what they were ,Corben craig will contact you in the near future.my heart goes out to you your brother and the family and you will all be in prayers, As Always Al Craig cell 706 633 3223

    • Thanks Al. Ya, lots of problems were solved in the garage (and created too!). It was a good place for everyone to gather and have a beer.
      Hope you’re well.

      Sean

  8. Jason said:

    Wow. I’m so sad to read this. I only met Jack a couple of times and I can’t tell you how sad it makes me to know I won’t get to see him again. He is truly one of a kind and will be missed. My heart goes out to you and your family. If there is anything myself or Sybil can do, don’t hesitate to ask.

    Love you brother,
    Jason

    P.S. Love from Sybil, Liam and Jett too…

  9. Wayne Beaudro said:

    Sean,

    I am so sorry to hear about your Dad. I only knew jack for a short time and as you know it was based solely as a Urethane supplier. Nonetheless, Jack was quite a character and I wish I had the opportunity to know him better. Moreover, Im sure it was quite difficult for you and your brother to make the decision you felt was necessary. My heart goes out to you and your family.

  10. Patti Micali said:

    Wonderful man….he had a special place in my heart. He will be missed.

  11. Mimi Forman said:

    Thanks for letting me know who Jack is. I thinking I’m going to borrow a few of his quotes:

    “It’s hotter than a sex-starved cobra!” and “AWK!! Give me a break!”

    Sending loves to you Katy and your family.

    • Thanks Mimi.
      The Jack Quotes need to stay alive. Keep passing them around.

  12. Beth K said:

    What a tribute you have written. No better story could be laid out in a novel. I have no doubt your Dad is smiling upon you, and your brother (as well as all family). He’s probably also chuckling a little from his cantankerous nature. I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing, and allowing so many of us (strangers and not) to walk this journey with you.

  13. What a tribute you have written. No better story could be laid out in a novel. I have no doubt your Dad is smiling upon you, and your brother (as well as all family). He’s probably also chuckling a little from his cantankerous nature. I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing, and allowing so many of us (strangers and not) to walk this journey with you.

  14. Ct said:

    So sorry- I love Jack as if he was my own dad- and he kind of was. Thinking of you and love you. Xo ct

  15. Andrew Arsenault said:

    Sean, I’m really sorry for your loss. I lost my dad in 2005. I still think about him every day.

    Andy

    • Hi Andy.
      Sorry to hear about your dad. That sucks!
      Thanks for reaching out.

  16. John lidberg said:

    Sean I’m so deeply sorry to hear of this tragic becoming, it hurts I just can’t believe this cuz and I can’t imagine what your going through right now emotionally but I’m here for you and Dave no matter what and your dad is going to be very deeply missed and never forgotten, I can tell you that..!!! It still hasn’t hit me in full yet because I guess it’s just hard for me when we were just all together at Ross & Jeans anniversary and things just seemed so good..!?
    I so glad you got him in your GREAT PIC’S he really belonged in them he’s such a GREAT Person, Dad and Uncle!!!! May your dad be BLESSED as well as the Family! Love you cuz see you soon take care!!! Your cuz, John

  17. Brandon Bahti said:

    Jack DuFrene was a man of many things. He was the next door neighbor to my family my entire life. Jack was always in the garage encouraging all the kids on our street to be active. He was always there to listen and offer his advice. He was a good friend to my father and to so many others. He was a dad who struggled with raising two of my good friends. I will miss him every time I stop by my parents to say hi. I made it a point to always say hi to Jack and he is no longer with us. So tonight in honor of Jack I will have a beer and drink to the man who didn’t mince words but just have you his opinion right or wrong.

    • Thanks Brandon. You hit the nail on the head. Well said.

  18. Dear Sean,
    I am deeply sadden by your dad’s passing.
    Just couldn’t really believe that it was only a couple months ago i was introduced to him in LA ,
    visited him at his house, and shared a pint at the pub.
    He was funny and cheerful, and was talking about starring again in the “JACK 2” series!

    I guess perhaps there’s a blue-print up there for everyone to live by, and when time is up, u go up….

    I am glad i have met him.
    Given more time, i am sure we would be very good friends.
    I will always remember him.

    My heart goes out to u Sean.
    Take good care of yourself.
    I am sure Jack wants that….

    Love,
    Justin.

    • Thanks Justin.
      My dad was the third Chan…”Justin, Joe & Jackie Chan!”
      That always made me laugh when you told him that.

  19. I am honored to have seen many images of him, spoke with him on the phone about covert Korean Operations, and even met him. It’s never easy loosing people we care about, and both mine and HJ’s thoughts are with you and your family. We wish you the best during this tough time. RIP Jack.

    • Thanks Daryn.

      PS: You’re still on the hook to recover that super-secret treasure buried somewhere near the 38th Parallel. Don’t forget!

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