Tag Archives: dad

Thank you

Veteran’s Day makes me think of my father. To say he fought in a war doesn’t really describe his experience. He served his country proudly, and in doing so, endured horrors that visited him from time to time for the rest of his life.

I remember asking him about his time in the service. One story that I’ll never forget was about his time in the Corps of Engineers when he was responsible for making sure his unit had the ammunition they needed to fight. More than once, he had to collect munitions from the dead – men he served with and called friends, so he could supply the ones still fighting.

He stepped over bodies on ground soaked in blood. He was in hostile territory recovering arms and ammo.

I could see the pain in his eyes as he told me this story. In reliving that moment, he gave me a unique insight into war that had never occurred to me before. I’d always thought of war in general terms: people fight, people die, it’s all terrible. But this was specific. His friends fought. His friends died, and it was more than terrible. It was something no one should have to experience. He was in the middle of it, and although he was happy to survive, part of him died that day and never returned when they shipped him home.

He was just a kid of 18 or 20. So very young, but not too young to die.

We see men in their 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, and recognize them as veterans. But that title isn’t limited to old men. Young men and women continue to come home destroyed by things they’ve seen in conflict. They all bear scars. We see the physical ones. Some of those scars are in place of limbs. Some are completely debilitating. We don’t see the mental ones. The soul-crushing ones. The ones tattooed inside their eyelids that visit them when they try to sleep.

We need to turn the spotlight on the real heroes. Not the people in Hollywood. Not the men on the gridiron. Those people get paid to do what they love. The true heroes made a sacrifice, and often many sacrifices, to keep our country free.

From the depths of my heart, thank you to all who served.

My Daddy Wore Blue Jeans

My dad lived a long, often hard, life. At the end, it’s easy to see that all he wanted was to be a better man than he was the day before.

Daddy was proud of a job well done, and wasn’t afraid of hard work. He never let anyone pay his way. He earned it, and stood on his own two feet. He wore blue jeans, because they were working-man clothes, and boots for the majority of his adult life, because he was a cowboy.

Of all that he was, at heart he was an entrepreneur, a helping hand to those in need, and a protector of those he loved.

For three years a child, he delivered produce, and for three of his adult years, he delivered newspapers by cargo plane. In between, and for years beyond, he did too many things to list. Of the numerous hats he wore, he was a:
Motorcycle Racer
Building Contractor
Cutting Horse Champion
(Yes, those are 4 different things)
Munitions Expert
Radio Operator
32nd Degree Mason
Grand Master
Census Taker
Veteran of the Korean Conflict
…and a lot of things I’ll remember after I click “publish.”

I remember hot summers playing in the barn, climbing on the hay bales he told us to stay off of, riding horses in the corral (my chosen horse was Tubbs, because she was gentle), and picking out any cereal I wanted when we went to the grocery store, which was a rarity in a home with 6 kids. He was always happy to see me, and when we were together, he made me feel special.

I’m proud of all he accomplished, and am happy that, with all the ups and downs in my life, we never lost touch. If I disappointed him, I never knew it.

In his final days, his thoughts and concerns were for his wife. She has dementia and is in a care facility with wonderful people watching over of her. He wanted to make sure she’s taken care of as long as she lives. He put things into place in insure that, and tasked my brother with the huge responsibility and honor of carrying out his wishes.

I miss him. The last thing he said to me was, “You did good. You did a good job.” It touches my heart to know he was proud of me, and what I’ve accomplished. While others may bicker over the small things, or fight for an inheritance, those words are a treasure that will stay with me to the end of time.

Rest in peace, Daddy. You deserve your reward.

This photo makes me smile. I think this is the only selfie Daddy took. As you can tell, it was fun for both of us.
Photo of me and Dad

Fathers should be immortal

A couple of weeks ago, I flew down to Texas on about 12 hours notice, because my dad needed me. That’s the first time in my life those roles were reversed, and it’s huge. I needed him, too. I still do, and always will.

My dad has always been a larger-than-life cowboy in every sense of the word. He is honest as the day is long, reliable – if he says he’ll do something, it always gets done, no exceptions. And he has a soft heart for beautiful women, his children, and horses. I can’t remember a time I didn’t look up to him as a role model. I get my strong will, determination, and self-reliance from the example he humbly lives every day.

bedroomI stayed at his house that was never my home, in a room with stuffed animals and a gun cabinet. As The Bloggess would say, it’s Texas, y’all. And that’s my dad. He’s soft and warm, a gentleman with a heart of gold, who will protect his family with every resource and ounce of strength in him.

As we talked about the ugly thing in his lung that frightened us both, that we needed to talk about, but refused to name, I soaked up as much of him as I could.

We talked about wonderful times before I was born, and fascinating things I never knew. And I realized, like everyone, that we never had enough time to really get to know each other. He was always “Dad” and I was always “Daughter” and we stuck to our roles. I know he loves me unconditionally, and I breathe because he is alive. As my eyes well up with tears, I fight them back because DAMMIT, he’s fought so many hard battles before, and has always won. He beat basal cell carcinoma, and then a melanoma that would have taken a weaker man to the grave. He survived a major brain aneurysm, and fought his way back to independence.

And now this.

Yesterday, the doctor confirmed our fears. Cancer has struck for the third time.

I told him how lucky he is. If he hadn’t had pneumonia two weeks ago, they never would have done the scan that showed the tumor. It’s small, and they think surgery will take care of everything. He’s the toughest guy I know. If anyone can get through this, he can.

But part of me understands how tired he is. And how frightened my big, strong, man of steel must be. I wonder whether he believes he can win another battle. Because, if he doesn’t think he can win, he won’t fight. He may think this is a battle that’s not worth the effort. I will support him, no matter what he decides.

My grandparents lived into their 80’s. Dad just turned 81. We talked about that two weeks ago. I think he’s looking at the end of his road, and wondering if this is the time to ride into the sunset.

I’m just not ready to wave goodbye.