Losses and memories

It’s been a while since I posted on here, an eventful few months. Sadly, I lost my father October 31st. The past year since last February has been spent in 1300 mile round trips to visit him in NC, and I don’t regret a moment of it. He lived 92 years, was a decorated WWII veteran, a decorated Korean War veteran who flew dangerous missions, a retired pilot from Piedmont Airlines (US Air/American Airlines now), a military policeman, night guard, learned to drive big trucks after retiring as a pilot, and an expert at forking hay and cleaning horse stalls. He particularly loved the last, as well as his wonderful cat, TomTom. If not for being assaulted and subsequent stroke caused by it, I do believe he would have made it to 100. He was a trooper to the end. I got my love of animals and creative writing from him, as my mother is wont to say, and both of them gifted me with a love for reading at an early age. While I’m struggling to come to terms with the details of his unnecessary death, I have the blessing of wonderful memories that light the dark path.

When we lived in Japan he took me to the Saturday  matinees to watch American Westerns and when we returned state-side, took me horseback riding and let my inner cowboy  have free rein. A Pennsylvania farm boy, he took to the South, particularly Jackson Mississippi, like a native, and always yearned to return. He built his first sailboat in the garage of our home in Jackson, and sailed the Ross Barnett Reservoir with it for years before selling it. His last sailboat is dry-docked in his NC field, alas. I would have loved to put him in it and let him take his last voyage into eternity, a case of Heineken by the helm. Some of his last words to me were about his beloved cat, TomTom, and I was able to tell him that the cat born in a manger in his horse barn is safe; he is now with a wonderful home in Mississippi. Funny, how things go full circle sometimes. I like to think of my father as flying free to revisit the places he loved, from the beautiful hills of Pennsylvania to the sweeping delta of Mississippi. He was a remarkable man. I will miss him until my last breath.