Thursday, February 25, 2010

A New Understanding

I don’t know why, it isn’t his birthday or the anniversary of his death, but his presence just seems to be hovering over me today. May I share him with you? This is what I wrote at the time my Dad passed away.

A New Understanding

Well I have to say over the years, I’ve had times when I’ve been overwhelmed, many times when I’ve been overcome to the point where I have felt like my heart was about to jump out of my chest; sometimes for joy, other times in sadness, but today, as I look around this beautiful church, I think that this is really almost more than my heart can take.
It’s apparent just how many lives dad has touched, not to mention all of your lives that
have impacted ours. Thank you for being here to celebrate dad’s life.

About a year ago, Denny and I went to San Antonio and we had the opportunity to go through the Museum of the 2nd World War in the South Pacific. It was then that I started to understand just what dad had gone through.
I came back home here to Rock Island, just after that to see how he was doing and I was so anxious to tell him about it. The morning after I came back, we were sitting there at the kitchen table and I said
Dad, I want to tell you something. “What’s that?" he said.
I want you to know that I know who you are.
He looked up at me, with suspicious eyes and said. “What are you talking about?”

I proceeded to tell him about the museum, how I had seen all these pictures of the 1st Marine Division fighting in Guadalcanal, Peleliu and Cape Gloucester, men tromping through the rain and mud. I told him that I had listened to the audios and read all the literature they had there on the walls and the tables, and how they had a German Submarine, and the fighter planes right there.
I told him that I know a person doesn’t really know anything, until they’ve gone through it themselves, but I did have a better understanding of what it must have been like for him. I told him how proud I was of him. He was such a patriotic and proud Marine. He was strong then and he was strong at the end of his life.

In the past few years, he faced lots of frustration, with his failing eyesight,
hearing and his loss of energy. He was no longer able to go out and feed his birds, or work in his garage, so he moved out of his house that he had been in for 40+ years. He gave up all of his tools and toys. That wasn’t easy, but he knew he had to do it and he faced it with strength. He enjoyed his apartment until the end and he made a whole new set of friends.

One of the things I remember when we were young is he would whistle when he came in the back door from work at night. We could have been upstairs doing our homework or watching TV, it didn’t matter where we were, what we were doing, we would all come running to greet him.
Supper was always on the table at six and every night, and I mean every night, after he was done eating he would get up, go and put his arms around Mom from the back and say
“Another wonderful meal Bernadine”

He loved Mom, he loved us kids and his grandchildren
He was a proud and very blessed man.

As he continues on in his journey, it certainly is bittersweet. I don’t want to let him go, but I will because he has so much to look forward to. I’m sure Lindsay will be the one who opens the door as he enters and Mom will be standing right there next to her with open arms. I’m sure he’ll smell pumpkin bread baking, and the table will be set for a feast that we can only imagine.

I want to close with just 2 lines from a beautiful poem.
This is what Rumi says:
“A baby bird stands on the edge of a nest all day, then hears a whistle, come to me. How could he not fly toward that?”

Dad, Go and enjoy!
Everything is waiting for you.