My Dad died just more than a year ago and I still miss him
“What you fear will not go away: It will take you into yourself and bless you and keep you. That's the world, and we all live there.” — poet William Stafford
My Dad died just more than a year ago and I still miss him even though I know we were blessed beyond measure to have him healthy as long as we did. He died at 92 years of age and drove his car the day he died.
In fact, a few months before his death, he got a speeding ticket. I passed him on the side of the road pulled over by an Ohio State Trooper just a few days after we celebrated his 92nd birthday. I decided not to stop because it might have embarrassed him. Even at 92 years of age, he didn’t need my “help” with the trooper. So we laughed at his $150 speeding ticket over a later-than- expected supper that night. Good for Dad! Wouldn’t we all love to live long and healthy enough to get a speeding ticket at 92?
We often think things like that speeding ticket are big problems when we’re younger, don’t we? We ‘woe is me’ and fret and worry over things, and in doing so make them bigger “deals” than they really are. Dad didn’t love getting the speeding ticket, but he was able to laugh about it, especially given his life’s experiences (including several speeding tickets in his younger days), his history and perspective, and his age.
We fret and worry over lots of things. Maybe we should, instead, laugh about them or at least put them in perspective. A snapshot in time — our present winter months spread over 150 years — can give us some of that perspective. If we use the benefit of a historical viewpoint, we might see that what we have is really just a “tempest in a teacup” — history repeating itself — instead of insurmountable problems.
We wring our hands over the long war against terrorism in which we’ve been engaged. And it has been a long one — too long — and too much American blood and treasure has been spent since Sept. 11, 2001, the date many historians give to the start of this war.
Yet, as I write this column, 75 years ago on Feb. 9, 1943, the World War II battle of Guadalcanal in the southwest Pacific ended with an allied victory, one of our first victories against the Empire of Japan won only two short years after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and then won a string of victories against allied forces on Wake Island, Guam and the Philippines.
At that time, too, things looked pretty bleak for America. But we ultimately won a hard fought war against the Axis powers, including Japan. Two years almost to the day after winning in Guadalcanal, Marines hoisted the American flag on Mount Suribachi over Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945.
Just more than a year ago, President Trump was inaugurated the 45th president of the United States. His election continues to be controversial and many fret tirelessly over his leadership style and his administration’s policies.
One hundred and fifty-seven years ago the same day I write this column, Feb. 9, 1861, Jefferson Davis was elected the president of the Confederate States of America in a congress held in Montgomery, Alabama. Just as many of us fret over Trump’s election, many of us in 1861 also wrung our hands over Davis’ election, the disunion in our country, and the grand experiment of America almost failing during our Civil War.
I’m not attempting to compare Donald Trump to Jefferson Davis as some readers — especially those who dislike Trump — might hope I would be doing. My point is that America and the incredible idea of a government “of, by, and for the people” ultimately prevailed during and after our Civil War. Almost exactly to the day 148 years after Davis was elected, our first black President Barack Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009. And America will continue to prevail regardless of Trump and his policies or how we may feel about them.
It’s not my point to minimize the horror of war or the travesty of slavery or to downplay the necessity to fight for peace and right and equality and do so sooner rather than later.
It is my point, though, to suggest that in many cases we’ve been there before. We fight, we learn, change happens but we flawed humans have to continue to learn new — and old — lessons. And we’ll be there again.
So in some cases, the best thing we can do is laugh about how funny and unjust life is, repeating itself like it does, how stupid we are having to relearn lessons over and over again, and how unfair and yet beautiful it is to get a speeding ticket, especially when the blue flashing lights are reflected in the face of a 92-year-old.
Barry Fetzer is a columnist for the Havelock News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.