Muklewicz family values Father’s Day even more

Photo Provided Photo Provided BRIDGEPORT head baseball coach Mike Muklewicz (right) and his father, Stan, are celebrating an extra special Father’s Day today after Stan nearly lost his life to a circulation issue in December.

BRIDGEPORT — Mike Muklewicz never misses an opportunity to brag about his dad.

Whether it’s about his carpentry skills or his abilities on a pool table, Muklewicz’s stories about Stan Muklewicz are endless.

They’re full of pride. They’re full of love.

Today, Muklewicz will guide his St. Clairsville Post 159 baseball squad in a doubleheader at Memorial Park. He hopes his dad is there to watch. Then, the pair might crack open a few cold ones.

Sounds like a typical Father’s Day activity. But this is no typical Father’s Day. This is a day filled with thanks, one that the younger Muklewicz is simply blessed to have with his father.

”As you start getting older, you sometimes take for granted that your parents are always going to be there,” he said. ”We all know they’re not. It doesn’t sink in until something like this happens.”

”This” happened last December 6.

”He and I were shooting pool and he had just beat me. He’d went outside and he texted me telling me something was wrong,” Muklewicz said.

Muklewicz and his friends found Stan in distress. A man that had had previous health issues was having another.

Before he knew it, Stan was at Wheeling Hospital being treated for a circulation issue in his left leg.

As doctors continued to treat his father, Mike Muklewicz soon learned there were complications. Clotting issues arose and what looked, at one time, to be a simple recovery, took a turn for the worse.

”I asked them, ‘what are we talking about?,” Muklewicz recalled saying. ”When I asked ‘days?’ and they gave me a nod, that’s when I knew it was serious.”At that time, doctors didn’t think there was anything they could do. Then, they decided to try amputating his leg just above the knee, something that was done just a few days before Christmas.

Now, this didn’t mean Stan was out of the woods. He remained in the hospital until things could stabilize. And, through it all, Stan had his son by his side.

”I spent some time sleeping in a recliner,” Mike said. ”Sometimes, you’re not going to be able to go home and sleep.”

It was tough for the father not being able to do anything for himself. And it was equally discouraging for the son to not be able to help the father feel better. But, by being together, they helped each other and made a tough situation somewhat bearable.

In fact, the situation strengthened the bond the two shared, one that’s evolved through the years, just like any does between a father and son.

”When you grow up, you get closer,” ”Muk” said. ”You just do things that get you closer.”

The duo go to Pirates games, talk about golf and sports; just do things that fathers and sons do. And, while there’s not a lot of spoken emotion, it’s there even if it’s only in body language alone sometimes.

”He doesn’t have to say anything,” he said. ”He’s not that type of guy. I know by his actions. It’s just how he is. He’s very proud of how I took charge of the family and of things.”

Stan has been fitted with a prosthetic and, according to his son, is continuing to adjust.

”He turned 59 on May 31,” Muklewicz, also Bridgeport High School’s baseball coach, said. ”That was pretty special. That (birthday) meant a little bit.

”It’s worked out pretty well,” he said. ”It’s hard because here is a guy who was a carpenter by by trade. There’s nothing this guy can’t fix. It was a bit of a transition, but he’s finding creative ways to do things.”

Stan made an appearance at the Bulldogs’ season opener this year. And, he’s been an inspiration for the team, at times.

”I’ve used it as a teaching point, sometimes,” Muklewicz said.

Now, the son keeps encouraging the father to get well, telling him he needs to get that rematch on the pool table soon.

”The last few years we’ve been closer than any time before,” Muklewicz said. ”He’s always been there for me.

”It’s a pretty neat relationship to have.”