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Memories of a Great Dad value. As a child, he discovered life was not fair when his mother died of cancer when he was 10 years old, leaving him to help his grieving father and, later, his stepmother raise his younger twin brothers. At 82, Dad was nearing the end of a slow and agonizing physical and mental decline. He was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when his body stopped following his mental commands. Simple tasks such as taking a first step or climbing into a tub became insurmountable obstacles. Mom put up a valiant effort for years, making him exercise daily and doing what she could to keep him mentally stimulated. But finally, it was too much for her. Dad fell in the bathroom, pinning the door shut with his body. A neighbor helped Mom take the door off the hinges, and Dad was taken by ambulance to a nursing home. Now, almost four years later, as Pat and I drove from the Grand Rapids airport to the nursing home, I had an ache in my chest, fearful of what we would find. I should have known Dad had it under control. He had already made his decision. *** Harold Ralph Cooper was the first son, born to Ralph and Elizabeth Engelhard Cooper on a very cold Feb. 17, 1923 in Grand Rapids. Grampa Cooper, a powerful figure in his own right, used to tell how he

Harold Cooper in uniform. had to drive his very expectant wife to the hospital steering and shifting with a broken right arm. When he had tried to crank-start his car the handle caught and spun in reverse, slamming into his forear m. He started it with his left hand and off they went. The amount of pain and suffering Grampa endured on that ride depended on how much laughter he could get from its telling. While the 1920s was the decade of my dad’s birth and early childhood, it was the austere life during the Great Depression of the 1930s and his service in World War II that forever shaped his later life. Ralph 24

Profile for Tidewater Times

June 2014 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times June 2014

June 2014 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times June 2014