I am Colette and this is my brother, Bob. We thank you leaving us a message. Robert Eiden Sr. was a member of the Greatest Generation of America, a WWII veteran, a husband whose married life spanned almost 68 years, a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus, and above all OUR DADDY. He was committed to and proud of his faith, his family, and his country.
Robert Eiden and his wife Edna, our mother, came into my life when I was 4 wks old, and into my brother's life when he was 6 months old. They opened their hearts to children who needed to be adopted. We were their children and they were OUR parents.
We both have memories of how our father interacted with us. My first memory is being taught how to swing a bat like Mickey Mantle. Bob says he remembers when Dad taught him to ride a bicycle solo downhill while Dad shouted, “Brake! Brake!” All interaction was put on hold while Dad watched sports on TV, especially when it was football with the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings, or Notre Dame playing. (Never mind the fact that he was on the floor sleeping. Do NOT change the channel.)
Dad had a great sense of humor and was good at “pulling our leg” which Mom kept in tow while my brother and I were little. I was proud, even as a 4 year old, that our daddy was in WWII. One time I asked what he did during the war. His answer, “I died.” Another time I asked what his rank was. His answer was “4-star general.”
Dad transferred the family to Huntsville, AL and he became one of the 1st one thousand people to work with the fledgling space program several years before NASA was established until after the Apollo missions. My brother and I are “NASA brats.”
Dad never forgot where his roots were. After moving to AL Dad made sure we traveled to Minnesota every 2 years to see our grandparents and other relatives in the area. In between visits he encouraged Bob and me to write letters to our grandparents.
Robert Eiden demanded promptness, and expected us to keep to our commitments as he did his. Our family was 20 minutes early for 8:30 AM Mass every Sunday. “The family that prays together, stays together” was a favorite phrase of his.
Dad taught by example. In whatever he did, he put in 110% effort. He became a member of new Council 4080 of the Knights of Columbus, where he helped with the BINGO games every week. Dad was the bartender at Knights of Columbus-sponsored dances.
When our mother died in 1974, my brother and I realized that Dad‘s life had become meaningless as we were now adults.
It was a blessing that our Aunt Dee reunited Dad with his high school sweetheart, Monica O'Hare. She became the center of Dad's life after their marriage.
They moved to TX at our insistence to be nearer to us in their retirement years. Dad was a private man. He preferred you to believe that Monica had been his only wife. It spared him from explaining how his children were 20 years older than his marriage was.
As Monica's health deteriorated, so did Dad's health. Dad was a proud man and would not ask for help. He pushed himself to be the sole caregiver for Monica. It broke his spirit last year to admit he could no longer care for Monica. On Feb 20th a phone call was placed between Dad, who was then in the hospital, and Monica, who was in the nursing home. Two hours after Dad said, “Goodbye, Monie,” Monica passed away – and so did Dad's reason for living.
Dad kept us on our toes while he was in the hospital. Dad was a social drinker. He asked Bob to get him some fresh water. As Bob was going out the door, Dad quipped, “And remember the scotch, too.” When Bob relayed the message, the nurse replied, “We ran out.” Then there was the time Dad asked me to call “Ma and Pa.” “Grandma & Grandpa?” Yes, and he pointed out I had my cell phone on me. “Dad, my cell phone coverage is good, but not that good.” Then he told me to go home and use the landline. “Dad, I do not have an area code” to which he gave a grunt of disgust.
Dad was unable to express his feelings. I now realize Dad's way of saying “I love you” was to argue with me. His way of saying he was proud of me was to comment “that is a good man you married,” or be critical of what Bob or I did. Dad noticed.
This past year his constant questions during arguments were “Why are you so opinionated?” and “Why does it always have to be done your way?” I would tell him to go look in the mirror to find the answer. The apple did not fall far from the tree.
Today, we believe Dad, Mom and Monica reside in one of God the Father's many mansions. You will know which one b/c the sign over the door says “Edna's Place.” When you walk in, you will be offered refreshment. The bowling alley is out in front of you. There are card games in the second parlor down the hallway. Dad, Mom, and Monica might be there. I hedge my bet that the three of them are in the first parlor where the BINGO game is going on. Mom and Monica are playing their cards, with Robert Eiden, Sr. calling out “B-12”, “N-32”, “O-65” . . .