Saturday, May 24, 2014



He was larger than life. His 6’2” towered over me until the last day we spent together harmonizing our favorite 1940s songs on the porch of the Rehab. Center. Tears welled in his blue eyes as I held his hand. We rocked gently in the swing on the facility patio. His beautiful baritone voice was not so strong or resonant anymore, but he stayed on pitch, and we listened to our own melodies playing in our hearts. I will never forget that day. He was 93 years old. To him, I was five. 

Today, five years after his painful passing, I honor his memory--not just of a wonderful, devoted father but as a man who served his country when serving made sense and heroes were respected. 

He was only in his twenties when he was called up. Like so many young men, he had to leave his new bride as he went off to boot camp. Soon, he was recruited for the JAG unit, even though he was no lawyer nor did he have any legal experience. His tenure in that role brought him experiences he could never have imagined. Meanwhile, my mother was home alone writing letters every day, crying and worrying that he would be sent abroad. Belgium and France welcomed him, but he never wanted to go back to Europe. The memories of that war were too painful, and, like so many, he never talked about those days.

When the decorated soldier handed me the folded flag, the one I had only seen in movies, I sat under the small tent at the military cemetery, still in a state of disbelief. The sun was shining as the horns played the melody I never wanted to hear. There were only six of us there, as all of his friends were already gone. The ceremony was touching, painful and unforgettable. I thought I heard him singing as we drove away.

We now have a room in our home dedicated to my father. His picture hangs on the wall. His flag hangs proudly over the door of the floor-to-ceiling sunroom that looks out over the golf course. He lived for golf and music, so it seemed appropriate to place it there--my piano sitting gracefully in the adjacent room. 

A small bear sits on my nightstand. He is only about 2 inches high, and he’s at least 80 years old. I don’t know where he came from, but I remember him sitting on our shelf from the time I was a small child. He is my legacy of a man who was strong as a bear, gentle as a lamb and a loving symbol of a father who served his country and modeled pride, devotion and spirit. He was my hero. He was my “Daddy.”