Last night my father died. It’s what we were all praying for – a peaceful, quick, and painless release.
But it still leaves a gaping, ragged hole in my heart.
My father was a good man. He served our country during WWII when at the age of 17 he became a tail gunner in the United States Navy. His job was to shoot down other planes, while at the same time the enemy tail gunners had the job of shooting him down.
That’s some courage.
He was widowed with 2 children when he married my widowed mother who had 4 children. He went on his honeymoon knowing that when he came home, he would be the father of 6 young children (and then a 7th was soon added.)
That’s some courage.
As a parent, he was not afraid to let us know when we had strayed from the path. We knew the value of food – don’t leave the table until you’ve eaten everything on your plate – in a large family food was valuable, you didn’t waste it, much as I counsel my 6 children today. We knew the importance of being accountable to others – the last one in at night had to cross their name off the list and turn the lights off. We knew that with so many kids in the family, resources were sometimes tight, we learned how to share and look out for each other.
My dad knew the importance of giving us independence and freedom. He let us do what we wanted, but if we did something wrong it was quickly corrected. I can’t tell you how often when I see some children’s behavior these days, I remark that “boy, if I *ever* did that, my father would have killed me.” I would never even THINK of behaving that way.
That’s not such a bad thing. That’s not such a bad thing at all. It’s what forged my compass and made me who I am today.
There is a Naval blessing of “fair winds and a following sea.” The full version is “Fair winds and following seas and long may your big jib draw!” This phrase mentions the ideal conditions for a mariner and is considered a blessing as well as a farewell.
Fair winds and following seas and long may your big jib draw, Dad. Thank you for your support, love, and guidance. I’ll miss you.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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