Remembering my father on his birthday
It’s my dad’s birthday this week. Or rather, it would have been my dad’s birthday this week. My dad was born January 30, 1927. He would be 91 but he passed at 72. That’s nearly 20 years that I feel more than just a little bit cheated. He would be proud of me and what I am doing. And if my dad were alive today, I could ask his advice about some important stuff around here. My dad was a Navy veteran.
My dad served on the USS Gilbert Islands, an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific. My mom remembers him at a reunion in San Diego with his shipmates many years ago and the laughter and memories they shared. I remember just a few of his stories. I remember him describing bringing planes onto the deck and saying his slight hearing loss in his right ear was actually a blessing because he didn’t have to listen to my mom tell him how to drive. Or later, when he would pick up my daughter Anna who talked nonstop, he said it just made the drive to Olympia easier. I remember him telling how his ship was recalled to Hawaii and the ship that replaced them was bombed with all souls lost. And his face grew still. I’m lucky. My father came home. I want everyone to have a father that comes home.
You see, running for office in Island County, I spend a lot of time thinking about the Navy and the community around Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. I’ve done a lot of research and talking to those who have information to share. I listen to the concerns of the neighbors affected by the noise or the water issues, and I share their concern. But I also see the families of those who serve our nation around town. I see their commitment to our community as well, their volunteer work in the schools, in our community and I see that we truly are neighbors. And I see the “I heart OLF” and the signs of support painted on fences. And I think of my dad. I think, “I wish my dad were here so I could ask what he thinks.” He wouldn’t have answers either. But he would listen.
So will I. I will listen. I will value our Navy and search for solutions to help them be good neighbors. We can work on that. Because that is something else I learned from my dad…be a good neighbor. He helped others. As my parents aged and their friends became widows, he became the neighborhood handyman. I remember him saying, “you do for people.” That’s how he showed he cared, you do for people. He fixed things. So maybe, in a way, my desire to fix things and care for people comes from my dad. All I know is this week, I miss him. But I’m guessing he’s up in heaven with a drink in his hand, an arm around an old friend and his brothers standing near as he tells a joke. And they’re all laughing.
Happy Birthday Dad.