Bidding Farewell to a Wonderful Old Soul

Bidding Farewell to a Wonderful Old Soul

Bidding Farewell to a Wonderful Old Soul


Sometimes a father figure is born from someone who isn’t your father at all, but rather a wonderful, old soul who enters your life offering positivity, love, and support when you need it most.

That’s the way it was for me with my Mom’s second husband, Tor.

He was seventeen years her senior, and was in his seventies when they married, however, he flung his arms wide and welcomed her four kids along with the eight grandchildren that were part of the package with enthusiastic joy.

“That’s fantastic!” Tor would often exclaim with the high-pitched, creaky voice of Grandpa Lou from the Rugrats, whether he was gushing over a simple pot of homemade soup, or a Kindergarten hand that had been traced and colored to become a sloppy technicolor Thanksgiving turkey. I’ll be darned, too, if he really didn’t mean it. He was a glass-is-half-full type of guy who worshipped the ground my mom walked on.

Tor was also, without question, my sons’ favorite grandfather who doled out praise and hugs and positive predictions of future accomplishments with a flourish. He loved to have fun with them, often crawling around on the floor to help fix their makeshift railroad tracks, or whooping it up in his living room in a fake Indian rain dance to make them giggle. How could a young child not love and gravitate toward a grandparent like that?




By the time Tor came into our lives, he had suffered greatly from the loss of his first wife, and I believe his mind had already begun to be mildly affected by dementia. Previously, however, he was very sharp, having graduated from Northwestern University, and having flown in fighter planes in WWII. Upon introduction to my husband, who was born in the former Yugoslavia, Tor announced with a grin, “Sure, I’m familiar with Yugoslavia. I bombed that country during the war!” And while it’s hard to fully convey, Tor’s enthusiastic joie de vivre even made a native Yugoslav sit back and smile over a none-too-welcome announcement like that.

Tor suffered greatly from Alzheimer’s during the last decade of his life. This despicable disease changed him from a spry, smiling 75-year-old who would scale the roof of his Chicago-style bungalow to shovel off the snow, to a bedridden being with very limited cognitive and physical abilities. And then, yesterday, at 93 years old, side effects of the disease finally claimed his life.

I’m sure the fear, sadness, frustration, and drudgery that goes along with caring for a person being ravaged by Alzheimer’s might temporarily obscure former positive memories, but having a more distant view, our memories of a fun-loving, caring man remain front and center.

We all loved Tor very much, and are simultaneously sad that he’s no longer a joyful part of our lives, and very relieved that the tragic existence he suffered during the last few years is behind him.

Tor, thank you for your love and support. It will always mean the world to us.

I will continue to think of you with fondness each time I walk under the Northwestern arch.

And I will forever cherish a vision I have of you passing through the pearly gates with a wink and a grin exclaiming, “This is fantastic!”


Written by Becky


  • Joyce says:

    Your Mom recommended your blog about Tor. She was right. It’s really great. I enjoyed reading it. Thanks. Joyce Klenner

  • suzy rakowski says:

    Would you mind if we included this with the bulletin? It is beautiful and I thank you for such a loving tribute.

    • Becky says:

      No, I don’t mind at all! Please feel free to use it however you want to. And I thank you for sharing your dad with us. He was a gem!

  • Catherine says:

    What a beautiful tribute to this special man. We would all be lucky to have someone like Tor in our family. His exuberant and clear minded entrance through the pearly gates makes me smile.

  • Lisa says:

    Sorry about your loss, Becky. It sounds like he was a wonderful man. You and your family were blessed to have him in your life, and he was blessed to have you, too.

    • Becky says:

      Thanks, Lisa. You know, while I know we were blessed to have him join our family, you’re right that he was also fortunate. The joy he got out of being with my mom as well as a whole group of additional family members I’m sure was precious to him as well. His ever-present smile during his “able years” said it all.

  • Kristie says:

    I’m so sorry Becky for your loss. However, so happy for all of you that you were blessed to have him in your lives.

  • Bonnie says:

    Becky, I’m sorry for your loss! You’ve spoken so fondly of him throughout the years that I some how feel like I knew him although we never met. He seemed like such a ray of sunshine.

  • Heather says:

    I thought your next post may be about Tor so I planned ahead and read it before I put my mascara on. Good thing! It was very touching and brought back great memories. Tor was a wonderful man. We were all blessed to have had the opportunity to know someone as positive, happy and peaceful as he was. Yeah, his last many years were very tough, much more so on Mom than on him I think, but it’s good to remember him in a happy way, the way he lived his life. Thanks, Bec, for writing this heartfelt piece for all of us. Love, H

    • Becky says:

      You’re welcome. I’m glad Mom was able to experience that type of adoration while he was healthier and that we were able to be touched by someone who was eternally positive.

    • Marilyn says:

      Heather – you’ve spoken so fondly of Tor over the years, I almost feel as if I knew him. While this is a loss for your family, as you said the last few years were really hard on your mom and you have so many great memories. Best wishes to you and your family.

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About Me:

Hi! My name is Becky. I’m a mom, a wife, a friend, a writer, and a compulsive thinker. Don't invite me to a spa or to shop the day away, but rather, make me laugh, engage me in interesting conversation, play a game with me, or give me a cappuccino and homemade vanilla bean flan and I’m yours ‘til the cows come home.

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