On August 6, 2015 at 10:33 am my dear father passed from this life into eternity. He was born in 1918 and was 97 years old. He lived a good long active life. When reflecting on his life I always think of how faithful he was to his family. When he was four or five his father died leaving him the only male in the family. As he grew up he stepped into the role as the head of the family and took it quite seriously. Responsibility was learned at an early age.
During WWII he stepped up to serve his country and ended up in the Army Air Corp as a pilot of the B17 bomber. His unit flew 33 missions into Europe from England and not a one was injured. Now that is a miracle with that many missions. His crew credit their pilot, my dad, with keeping them safe. When he was stationed in Ardmore, Oklahoma training as a pilot he met my mother who was six years younger. They fell in love dancing together to the wonderful forties music. Upon his return from Europe they married.
Everything I learned growing up regarding keeping your word, personal responsibility, and being faithful I learned from Dad. No matter what he did he did it with all his heart. He loved his wife and spent his life taking care of her. He would bring her a cup of coffee every morning when she woke up – at least until he retired and started sleeping later. As hard as he worked, he always made time to attend and support me and my brother in all our activities. He was a proud father.
He was of the generation that believed in the American dream and was an avowed patriot. Always conservative he and mom were Goldwater Republicans living in Tyler, TX during the Democrat years. Because of that my brother and I learned the value of limited government, personal responsibility, hard work, frugality and liberty. He never spoke of his WWII experience and it wasn’t until we were grown up that we really understood what he had done and how well he had served. He was a modest and humble man.
After we left home and they moved into a beautiful lake community he took up tennis which apparently, he had played as a young man. From that time forward he played tennis three times a week until just before his 95th birthday when he fell and fractured his wrist and his macular degeneration began to interfere. That was hard for him to give up. Until then my mother told everyone that if she died first to make sure they planned her funeral for a non-tennis day. That is how committed he was to that time.
Dad was not a perfect man, he had no role model growing up showing him how to be a husband and father but he was diligent at trying to get it right. He worked hard and never complained. He had a good sense of humor and would joyfully go along with mom’s costumes for all the Halloween Dances they attended and her costumes were pretty creative! All in all dad was a homebody who was content to stay home, serve at church, Kiwanis, play tennis and go to dance club. He and my mom were quite the dancers. It was beautiful to watch.
Now as we say goodbye, it is bittersweet. He suffered much in the last two months and it is good to know he is well now and probably playing tennis in heaven. We will miss him but will always remember the good as well as the bad times for that is what life is all about. For after all it is our memories that keep our loved ones close even when they are no longer physically with us.
So Dad, you have left the ball in our court and now it is our turn to continue the legacy.