Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Farewell, Dad

My father died last night. He was 92. For the last ten days or so, he had drifted off, not eating and barely drinking anything. He died peacefully in his sleep. It was definitely his time.

The drinks post I did a few days ago was a scotch and soda I mixed for him that day. I sat with him, sipping a bourbon. At that point, he hadn't eaten in a few days, so a stiff scotch worked wonders, so to speak. I took that photo as a rememberance of nursing him through his final days. He wasn't fully cogent and hadn't been for about a year. I'm sure now, looking down at this, he loves it. It would have been his kind of thing.

The recent, cryptic post about redemption and forgiveness was from this experience as well. He made his peace with my wife after his own fashion and it is something she will treasure forever. That deserves a story as well.

I learned so much from helping him go through the process of dying. I had a couple of deeply religious experiences, at one point knowing I was being used by God through the process of loving my father. It was beautiful. Painful and difficult in many parts, but beautiful nonetheless.

My father was the most accomplished and intelligent person I have ever known. West Point, Class of 1949, Harvard MBA, graduating first in his class at the Air War College, flying B-26s in Korea and setting the record for truck kills by a B-26, two tours in Vietnam on the air war planning staff and flying combat missions as well, building a house nearly by hand after his retirement, turning to art after that, painting for 25 years with his oil paintings exhibited all over the place, serving on his local town council, working with the county government and on and on. He never could abide just sitting still. That was alien to him. He worked hard to become skilled at everything he did.

There's much, much more, but I will need to process it first. Below is a video of B-26s in action, based where he was, Iwakuni, Japan.Had I found this video earlier, he would have recognized much of it, I'm sure. He was a night attack pilot, so the scenes of planes in formation and daylight flying weren't what he did. He and his crew were sent out all alone to do what they could to the Norks' war machine. He told me that his given targets were anything and everything behind enemy lines. How's that for Rules of Engagement?

I'll stop here. I love you, Dad. I'm glad you've passed through this stage of your life. Dementia and physical handicap never suited you.

9 comments:

tim eisele said...

You have my deepest sympathies. I'm glad that you and your wife were able to be with him at the end.

Jedi Master Ivyan said...

I'm sorry for your loss.

Mostly Nothing said...

So sorry to hear this. I am glad he is now at peace.

I only met him a few times 30 or so years ago. I vividly remember his stories he told at your son's first birthday.

I was so grateful they allowed me to live in their house that one summer i was back in San Diego and they were on a trip to England.

Foxfier said...

*hug*

Kelly the little black dog said...

I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your Dad. I have many memories of him, but what I remember most is that he came with you to my college graduation party at my parents house. His gift was to photograph everyone at the party. Photos I have to this day.

IlĂ­on said...

I'm sorry for your loss.

Ohioan@Heart said...

Deepest sympathies from Mrs Ohioan and myself.

K T Cat said...

Thanks, everybody. Those kind wishes mean a lot to me.

ligneus said...

Is it any easier when a parent reaches 92? Probably not but what I wouldn't have given for my old mum to have had a few more years than 67, and even that is not bad compared to kids who are orphaned. Hope this isn't deemed inappropriate, probably it is, it's just how I think for better or worse. Meantime I feel very sad for you, it's a huge event in our lives, nothing quite like it. What a great guy to have had for a father.