This past Sunday — Father’s Day 2017 — was the first Father’s Day in a very long time my brothers and sister and I were without ours: 64 Father’s Days for me, 63 for my brother Brian, 61 for my brother Bruce and 59 for my sister Bonnie.
That’s a lot of Father’s Days. In fact, they comprise a full lifetime of Father’s Days for some people.
Most people don’t have their fathers as long as my siblings and I had ours. Add his 28 years of life — his age at which I was born — to the 64 years of life I was blessed to have my Dad and that comes to 92 years, his age at death.
He likely would have been younger when I was born were it not for WWII. He left college to enlist in the US Army in 1942, ultimately assigned to the US Army Air Corps and serving in China. He did not return to the States until 1946. After weeks of transit across the Pacific Ocean, he made port in Seattle after long years away from home in January 1946, slightly less (by six days) than seven years prior to the birth of his first son (me) and 40 years to the day prior to the birth of his first grandson.
Then, after being exposed to a very big world during the War and not content any longer, not yet at least, to make a home in rural Ohio, he drove to Alaska with his brother, and then making his way slowly back east he flitted from the University of Southern California, to the University of Wisconsin, to Ohio State University, graduating from college in 1949.
Now finally back home and content … more or less…to be there, he proposed to and married in 1950 my Mom who must have had the patience of Job (and undying love for him) to allow herself to be courted for over seven years before accepting his hand in marriage. Mom’s undying love (and patience) is evident in the almost 75 years Mom and Dad were together, over 67 years married and seven years of courting. More than a lifetime for many people.
After their marriage Dad completed law school at night and a year later sired the first of his four children in 1953. He always, though, had an unfulfilled desire to travel. I heard him say more than once of his hope to buy an RV someday and “live the life of a vagabond.” Life got in the way.
But it was a long, 92 year life. Dad died five months ago, almost to the day. There’s rarely been a day since his death that I haven’t thought of him.
While it is sad that we celebrate Father’s Day without him this year, as my siblings and I have agreed we have more to celebrate then to be sad about. He lived is life his way, was driving and living independently until the day he died, and he died peacefully asleep in his own bed, the way most of us would want to pass on to the Great Beyond.
Still I miss him. He was a good father, husband, brother and son. He was a respectable, honest, hard working man. He taught his children basic decency through his own example and taught us to talk less and act more, the importance of education, and to care about a person’s heart, spirit, and brain—not their appearance.
So in this letter to Heaven, Dad, I hope you’ll hear my salutations of a happy Father’s Day to you, now finally and truly home after your earthly travels and the ultimate trip to the Great Beyond. Thanks for the over half century’s example of proper fatherhood, one that’s made me a better dad.
Barry Fetzer is a columnist for the Havelock News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.