Sunday, June 19, 2005

Dads...Be Safe for Your Families - They Need You

Family keeps father’s memory alive By Sarah Viren The Daily News Published June 19, 2005 Diseree Perry, 18, bought her dad a Happy Father’s Day balloon at Wal-Mart this week. It hovers — metallic and buoyant — above the shaded gravestone of John B. Perry, who drowned in a boating accident when his daughter was in fifth grade. A doll-sized football jersey hangs at the grave near two angel statues, a flower bouquet and a single cigarette — the brand John Perry smoked. Father’s Day, a holiday often confined to saccharine greeting card messages, has a poignant reality in the Perry household. Each year since John Perry’s body was found near Pelican Island, Yvonne Perry has taken her children, Diseree, and Bo, 17, to their father’s grave on the third Sunday in June. There was a time that she spent every day at that gravesite, jumping the fence some evenings if the Galveston County Memorial Park was closed. There were years, too, that she picked out Father’s Day cards for the kids and took them out to her husband’s grave. Sealed plastic bags protected their ink messages from the rain. These days she still buys cards, but keeps them in a special box in the house for her husband: A tall, thin man with an impish grin, her high school sweetheart. “Angels remind us of him,” she said. Diseree was 10 and Bo was 8 the February night that their dad never came home. He had finished his shift early and decided to go fishing with two friends. Yvonne didn’t realize that until later. At first, she figured he went out for a beer with friends. When she woke up at 2 a.m. and her husband still wasn’t home, Yvonne knew something was wrong. Bo was still awake playing Nintendo with a friend. Although her son doesn’t remember it now, Yvonne says he suggested they follow a trail of chocolate doughnuts to find his father. John Perry loved chocolate doughnuts. That’s something the family laughs about now. He also liked to listen to AC/DC and Guns ’N’ Roses. When she is missing her dad, Diseree sometimes goes to her room and puts the music on. John Perry also loved coaching sports — all of them. Bo, now a football player at Hitchcock High School, started playing because of his dad. It’s the little things that Yvonne and her children talk about on days such as today, as they sit under the shade of an oak tree staring at the engraved name John B. Perry. “I can feel the connection, being out there is like being with him,” said Bo. Yvonne said she thinks it is important for her kids to understand their father and his death. But she also wants to help them move on. Five years ago, she started dating a man name Marty Carrel, who is now her fiancé. He plays sports with the kids. On Father’s Day now he barbecues for everyone at their Texas City home. But first he goes with Yvonne, Diseree and Bo to visit the grave of John B. Perry. “We talk about him, and then I talk to him and then the kids have their little moment talking to him and then I clean off the stone,” Yvonne said. “I just like to let him know that we are doing OK.”

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