The first thanksgiving since Dad died has come and gone. It was one which went better than I expected.
Ruby and I spent the day with her family — her mom and dad, aunt and uncle, sister, her brother in law, all three of her kids, her son in law and six month old grandson — and my daughter and her boyfriend came and visited for a few hours. I got a special call from my oldest daughter and made a call to my mom. Mom must have been busy because I only got her voice mail.
It has been almost five months since dad died and it is becoming easier yet there are moments where I am reminded of Dad.
One of those moments was when watching “Act of Valor”. The funeral at the end of the movie had the commanding officer kneeling in front of the widow and saying, “On behalf of a grateful nation …..” and presented the flag to the widow. That made me sad. I remembered the beautiful and respectful service we had at Tahoma National Cemetery.
Another moment came the other day when my uncle Gary sent me a poem where a little girl went to “Daddy Day” at school without her daddy. She explained how her daddy had been killed a few days earlier by a roadside bomb and that he was with her always.
My memories of Dad will be with me always but I am feeling like I am moving on. The grieving process has been interesting and unique to me. I’ve felt sadness, a sense of betrayal, a feeling that maybe I did not really know my dad as well as I thought I knew him, and a feeling, as I dealt with the aftermath of mom and his finances, that he was living a life he could not afford.
Fortunately the laws of Washington and Arizona have protected mom and she is going to be OK. I know what I am writing will hurt some of you and I ask you to be gentle with me. I have seen a lot more than many of you have seen of the effects of Dad’s decisions than any one else, even my mom……. and I am not writing to disparage my dad’s reputation but am writing to make a point. I hope the point is clear later.
Thanksgiving was important to me this year. I am a son without his father, a man who I came to know very well before his death and a man I came to know even more after his death. I have read his entire Navy file — everything from his signing of his enlistment papers to the fight he had with Navy brass at the end of his career as he tried to get command of a destroyer and extend his service to our country. In between all of that he served with distinction and was never disciplined but praised for his hard work and dedication to his service of our great country.
I am still learning lessons from this man who was my father — Dad — and learned (remembered) today that being thankful for the people who surround us on days like this is very important.
All of us will make mistakes. When we die people will look at what we did with our lives and they will judge us or they will love us and believe in their hearts — like I believe in my heart — that my dad made decisions that he simply did not have time to correct. He had work left to do and he ran out of time. I am finishing his work and taking care of his business. It has been hard, there has been a lot to do, but as of today it seems like it is mostly done, except for reassuring Mom that she is going to be OK without the man that she loved for over 60 years.
I have enough love in my heart for all the people in my life and I hope every one of them knows how thankful I am for each one of them.
Overlook the flaws, pick up the people you love, hold their hands, love them, show them that they are valuable to you and just love them.
As I read this I wonder how it will be received……… I hope it is with love by those I love.
Nobody and nothing else matters.