Saturday, December 25, 2010

Good-bye and Godspeed, Daddy

My father passed away December 11, 2010, almost a decade after being diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and was laid to rest with military honors at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Cave Creek. The service was a celebration of life rather than a funeral: a 21-gun salute and solemn prayer provided by the Disabled American Veterans, the presentation of the flag to my Mom by a Marine contingent, the mourner's kaddish by our neighbor and good friend of almost 40 years. Mom and each of us four children read an anecdote or two (to some knowing laughter). The ceremony ended with a bittersweet and utterly lovely rendition of Sunrise, Sunset by a professional singer, a friend of the younger of two brothers.

Dad on a photography outing.

He was an electrical engineer, avid hobbyist photographer, outdoor adventurer (camping, hiking, whitewater rafting, sailing), tennis player, husband, father of four and grandfather of seven. He had served in the Marines and always identified with The Few, The Proud. In 1970, he determined Arizona was the place to raise a family, so my parents left everything and everyone they knew on Long Island, New York, and moved to Scottsdale, Arizona.

I credit my father with with my love the the outdoors, of classical music, and more recently, of dogs.

His public and private personas were different. During my Thanksgiving visit, I learned of a side of my father I never knew. Throughout our lives, we had a contentious relationship. I learned recently, that he had a large cadre of loyal friends from his photography and outdoor adventure interests, as well as his dog-walking friends. The telephone never stopped ringing with calls for him, and there was a constant stream of visitors.

We made peace at the end. I wish it had come sooner, but that one conversation I will always treasure.


Chile said...

I'm sorry for your loss, but glad to hear there was peace for at least a brief time.

Linda said...

Touching memories of your dad: nice to have those to hug in time of need.
wishing you the best - Linda

Waitress from Mensa said...

Linda and Chile, Thank you for your thoughtfulness.