Every Dad has a story

June 19, 2021

For far too many, Father’s Day 2021 will not be a celebration with dear ol dad but a remembering of how one day he was there and then all too soon he was not.  For some this is already the second fatherless Father’s Day, for other’s their first.  But all of them happening in the emotions of “this should not have happened”.

But COVID happened.  And it left in its wake hundreds of thousands of families without a mother or father celebrating their day.  In America, we are blessed that the scourge has at last been stopped.  And while loss will still come in the many ways it always has, there will at least be the chance to be with them, and if not that, to mourn at a funeral, have a final goodbye.

It’s hard enough to lose a parent under normal times.  I cannot imagine the pain if I had not been able to be with mom by dad’s side when he passed.  And if she had not been able to have the family with her, the service, that final goodbye at the cemetery?  I’m honestly not sure if I’d still have her today as that would have been a pain unbearable.

The topic came up more than once during the pandemic of how much we missed him yet also how thankful we were that he passed before the lockdowns, before the isolation.

I mean not to depress, but to remind all those celebrating with their own fathers today to treasure it, protect it with all your might.  Share every bit of life while you have it.

Because if there is one thing COVID has taught us is that just when think you have plenty of time, you don’t.

Every dad has a story, everyone should be told.  This is dad’s story from my January 2019 column on his passing.

“Born in the depths of the Great Depression, he was spared the worst of the Dust Bowl and the havoc it wreaked. His World War II was spent collecting newspaper articles and magazine ads and gluing them onto the pages of a Victory scrapbook. It is bar none, the most valuable piece in my library.

Korea was their war. A United Nations “peace action” whereby the U.S. GI bore the brunt of the action, the diplomats ran their mouths, and in the end, nothing but a line of truce drawn with the blood of the dead.

While the returning vets weren’t spit on like their future Vietnam brethren, they were in no uncertain terms, ignored. No parades or ticker tape, just a nod and “now get back to work.”

Dad didn’t make the war, but had his own hell serving 350 miles above the Arctic Circle at Point Barrow, Alaska, supporting the construction of the Distant Early Warning system or DEW line. A sign of just how hot the Cold War was getting; its critical mission was to detect Russian bombers and give American and Canadian commanders the precious time needed to respond.

Like the Greatest Generation before them, some used the GI bill to become the engineers, scientists, and managers of their era, while others returned to their pre-war roots.

They became the farmers, machinists, welders, plumbers, electricians, store owners, auto and factory workers that would provide the fuel for America’s economic engine to create the largest economy the world had ever known.

When the social unrest of the late 1960s and early ’70s unleashed itself on the streets of America’s cities, they did not pick up protest signs, they did not march in the streets. Not because they were afraid, they’d more than shown their courage years past, but because they were just plain disgusted. No matter one’s politics, rioting in the streets and burning the American flag didn’t sit well with men who’d literally been to hell and back.

It was, to say the least, a different time. A time when work was a necessity, family was the focus, church the rock, and community the glue that held it all together.

A time now 40 years on, all but forgotten by far too many.

The men of my dad’s generation started with nothing but optimism, yet in the end had to silently watch as their factories closed, their jobs disappeared, and their towns turned to rust before their eyes.

He may have been simple to some, but to those who knew him he was smarter than any one of the prancing peacocks in D.C.

And yes, he was the best damn dad a son could ever have.”

Happy Father’s Day dad.  You’re certainly missed but you will never be forgotten.

A version of this column appears in the June 19, 2021 edition of the Joplin Globe.

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