My friend and former client and I have stayed in touch since the Listeria cantaloupe outbreak took his father. On this Father’s Day I asked him to put some of his thoughts into words:
My name is Paul Schwarz. I am looking down at my father’s tombstone at the Leavenworth National Cemetery on this Father’s Day thinking of my father. I was named after my him, a World War ll veteran and double purple heart recipient. After the war, dad worked for a printing company, a bakery and as an agent for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company beginning in 1956. He retired in 1981 at the age or 63. He was a father to five, grandfather to nine and great-grandfather to ten.
Thinking of those good times that our family had brings a smile to my face. Dad never missed a game of whatever sport that his children were participating in. Dad loved the Kansas City A’s, Kansas City Royals and the Kansas City Chiefs. Dad also loved golf. On early Sunday mornings dad, my two brothers and I would tee off at the crack of dawn at least twice a month.
In September 2011 it was cantaloupe contaminated with Listeria that ultimately led to his death. Dad regularly ate cantaloupe for breakfast.
Starting with flu like symptoms in mid-September led to waking up on the morning of September 19th unable to move his legs. He was transported by ambulance, not to ever return to the home he shared with our mother.
His hospital stay was filled with intravenous antibiotics, mood swings and delirium. Dad could do nothing for himself. It was still the same after moving to a rehab facility. After almost three months the fight was over. Dad passed on Dec. 18, 2011.
I still think about the Jensen Brothers that grew the cantaloupe on their in Holly Colorado farm. The mistakes they made in processing the harvested cantaloupe led to 147 illness and 33 death across the country. I have not, nor will I ever forgive them. As far as I am concerned, they should have gone to jail.
We must do everything that we can to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.