My father-in-law James P. Schmitt died on January 24, 2017. He was 75.
The last thing we did together was watch Wizard Mode together. Actually, he came in towards the end of the movie, after coming home from his daughters’ house where he witnessed the Patriots deliver a stunning defeat to his beloved Steelers. I feel that, between the Steelers losing, his cherished wife Kathy dying from ALS a year earlier, and a Trump presidency, he decided that now was the time to peace out from this mortal coil.
It’s amazing how one can think to themselves, “if that guy asks me for ONE MORE FUCKING THING, I’m going to kill them and myself”, and then completely miss the sound of their voice once they’re gone. Jim was an enormous pain in my ass*, but now I’m really sad that he’s gone.
Jim went through so much the last couple of years, it’s amazing he lasted as long as he did. Not only did he have to deal with his wife passing away, but he had to deal with the slow, drawn-out agony of watching the spritely love of his life slowly wither away from that terrible fucking disease.
A few months after Kathy passed, I found Jim in his room, whiter than any living being I had ever seen before. He was rushed to hospital, dealing with massive internal bleeding. Once there, he managed to contract fucking C. diff on top of everything else! Somehow, he managed to pull through THAT, and he left hospital a good hundred plus points lighter.
Over the next couple of months, we spent a lot of time arguing with one another over how he perceived he was being treated. I didn’t want to wait on him hand and foot while he laid in bed all day; he felt I was being disrespectful to him, I felt that he needed to motivate himself to get at least enough exercise that walking down to the kitchen and back would provide.
One day, a male therapist came over to the house. Jim was in his “male undergarments”, which was his style of lounging dress he chose over the last couple of years. The therapist felt that he was able-bodied enough to put on a pair of sweatpants; Jim felt that he was in his house, who was going to tell him what to wear? That was the therapists’ one and only visit.
Jim loved to be out on the water. Kathy and him owned a boat when they lived in Pittsburgh, and they would throw wild parties on it on the regular. He even wrote a newspaper that followed the boating scene in Pittsburgh named “Anchors Aweigh”! He really wanted to get another boat here in California, but his plans never came to fruition. I’m not even sure he would have been satisfied if he did get a boat. It wouldn’t be the same without his shipmate Kathy by his side, looking damn good in her bikini.
My girlfriend was talking to her Spiritual Counselor this morning. The Counselor told my GF that she saw Jim surrounded by water, at peace with everything. While it’s hard for me to imagine Jim surrendering totally to peacefulness – the guy really loved an argument! – I am sure he’s on a boat somewhere in the cosmos, with Kathy to guide them as they set sail throughout the stars.
Jim & Kathy Schmitt
*Jim was an enormous pain in EVERYONE’S ass, but never so much as when dealing with any form of customer service representative over the phone. There’s not much that can shock me anymore, but some of the things he told those poor people just trying to do their job? Hoooo boy! So you know he’s gotta be arguing with St. Peter about opening these fucking gates a little quicker so that he can go rap with Mary Tyler Moore!