|FAIR WINDS AND FOLLOWING SEAS|
MAY THE LORD FILL OUR SAILS WITH FAIR WIND
SUPPORT OUR HULLS IN INVITING SEAS
GUIDE OUR HANDS UPON THE TILLER TOWARD PLEASANT PLACES
AND BRING US HOME, O LORD, TO A SAFE AND LOVING HARBOR
I would like to thank all those that offered their sympathies following the death of my father. I appreciate all of the cards, emails, and phone calls. I also want to extend my heartfelt thanks to the members of the Stoneham Fire Department. The flowers were beautiful and to all of you that attended my father's wake and funeral, it meant a lot. My family was also awestruck by the number that showed up in dress uniform and stood outside along the stairs of the funeral home. My mother especially was deeply touched by your presence and kindness. I also would like to thank the U.S. Navy for sending the two sailors to peform the military honors at the cemetary. My father would have been so honored to not only have the firefighters at his wake, but to have two seasoned Navy men send him off in such a dignified way. My dad would have been so honored to have had a senior enlisted man with over 24 years in the Navy and a Commander perform the duty. I am trying to get an address to write a thank you letter to, but it's been a bit of a challenge so far.
Describing my dad is another challenge as he was fairly complex. He was old fashioned and old school. He was a Navy man from another era when people just didn't do what they felt like. He was stubborn and proud, but a good man at heart. He always had good advice to give. He was from a time when men didn't say I love you all the time or wear their feelings on their sleeves. He showed you that he cared in other ways. For instance, whenever he'd hear of a line of duty death, I'd always get a phone call. He would start with some chit chat and then end with telling me to make sure my flashlight, portable radio, and other gear was in proper working order. That was his way of telling me to be safe. And when I'd go over his house to fix his computer (which was fairly often), he'd offer me some money when no one was looking. Of course I'd turn it away and he'd be a tad unhappy that I wouldn't take it. But, my dad always had the last word. A little time would go by and then when I'd come over he'd have "accidently" purchased too much photo paper or the wrong kind of ink for the printer that just so happened to be the kind my printer used.
My dad taught me many things, like how to tie a tie or how to drive a car. But, he also taught me more important things. To him, words like honor, discipline, and respect were not just words but a way of life. He taught me that a man's name and his word define him, moreso than how much money he has or his occupation. Respect is always earned and never taken for granted. Honor and trust take years to earn, but only moments to lose. And never make promises you can't keep. But, he also had a good sense of humor as well. I think to a degree he was happier that I joined the Coast Guard rather than the Navy so he could have fun at busting my chops. "The Coast Guard is great", he'd say. "We used to use them to bring us the shore on liberty when our ship was too big to dock." This isn't to say he wasn't proud that I was serving our county, far from it. He was very proud. But, he enjoyed the playful banter. I'd call him a squid and he'd call me a hooligan and then we'd laugh. In fact one of the most enjoyable experiences I have with him was going to visit the USS Salem in Quincy, which we did just about every year until recent times. The Quincy is the same class of ship as the USS Des Moines, which my father served on in 1948 and 1949. I really enjoyed our trips there, it was like having my own personal tour guide. But, even moreso, was watching him turn into a nineteen year old. His face would light up as he'd tell me what things were used for and how they did things on the ship. He's dart up and down the ladders like a kid as he reminisced about old times. While I had heard most of the stories before, I still enjoyed hearing them again. He was thrilled to re-connect with a bunch of former shipmates thanks to the internet. He enjoyed talking with them and sending emails, a number of them whom I also became familar with. I even got to meet some of this Columbus friends when they had a reunion in Framingham a number of years ago. All of them great guys, just like my dad.
Losing my dad not even two years after losing my sister has widened the hole in my heart. But, I'll try and think about the good times and all that my father taught me. And I'll continue to use all those good things in my life. When my parents dropped me off at the train station the morning I was reporting for boot camp, my father said to me this. "I won't say good bye, because I don't like good bye. So, instead, I'll just say see you later." It was the first time I had ever seen his eyes fill up, and only saw it once or twice more after that. Since I know I'll see him again in heaven some day, I will do the same. I won't say good bye dad, instead, I'll just say see you later.
This was written by my daughter:|
The sun shines high every day,
And you are so very far away.
In Heaven you shall stay,
And forever I will pray.
We miss you very much,
And we can't keep in touch,
You were there when we were born,
Now all our hearts are torn.
I won't be able to see your face,
But I know you are in a better place,
You were in so much pain,
But think of how much strength you'll gain.
We all will miss you very much.