We found out recently, the beginning of April, that my dad had a large mass in his left lung and it has also spread to his bones throughout his body. He's been in hospice care since, here at home, with me, my brother, and my nephew Henry. He lived through all of WWII serving in the Pacific, after joining the US Navy at the age of 17, the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked. Born and raised in Oklahoma City, he'd never seen the ocean, and always wanted to. He spent most of his time on a Fletcher class destroyer, Stephen Potter (DD-538), and the aircraft carrier, Hancock (CV 19). After the war, he was stationed at Pearl Harbor.
My mom, Nancy, was born on the island of Kauai, to Korean immigrants. During the war, she was a singer for the USO. Mom met Dad, when she noticed him, sloshed off his butt, while his buddies took advantage of him and his wallet. She watched from the stage, in the nightclub she was singing at, as my Dad's buddies made him buy all the drinks. When her set was over, she went down to my dad's table and told the other guys to get lost, and she ordered Dad some coffee. They married 3 weeks later, just before Dad had to ship out. He worked 14 hour days since then, in places like Iran, Mexico and Saudi Arabia, until he retired in 1989. He smoked 2-3 packs a day for 70 years, had 5 sons, and survived 62 years of marriage to Mom, who is now in an Alzheimer's care facility. God bless her....
When we told Dad the diagnosis, he looked at the doctor, and with a smile he said, "I've lived a good life."
Everywhere we've lived, they loved our Dad.
Dad passed away, this past May 28th, at about 6:30, here at home. It also happened to be my mom and his 63rd Anniversary. I'm sure he held out so he could make it 63 years. If you knew him, you'd probably think that too.
I think I was in denial because it was happening so quick. My friend Jaime Avalos, was in town... offered to stop by, and I thought it would be alright to step out for a bit. I whispered in Dad's ear that I was stepping out, but that I'd be right back. I told him my brothers, Jim and Homer, were going to be on there way up from Vegas, if he wanted to wait, but if he wanted to go, that we'd be alright, and that we'd watch over mom so he didn't need to worry. I gave him a kiss, and said, "I love you, you old fart."
My brother Bob was by his side when he expired shortly thereafter. Again, it is so "Dad" to wait for his baby boy to leave, and to have his eldest son by his side in the end. I'm sure he wanted to shelter me from it. The funny thing too, is that Bob tried to call my cell several times, to let me know, but it never showed on my call list. My phone never rang. Bob tried calling Jaime's phone, but Jaime left it on the charger in the truck, as we grabbed a bite to eat. I'm sure Dad wanted it to work out that way, so I've got no regrets.
Dad will get full military honors, when we have a joint memorial with Mom, back in Hawaii. They will look down on Diamondhead, where they met back in May of 1947. They will be laid to rest, together, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. While Mom is still with us, Dad's ashes will hang out here with us. We know he wouldn't want to return home, to Hawaii, without Mom.
I know this isn't squatch related, but I wanted to let you all know where I've been, and that I've still got squatchin on my mind. I'll get back the mountains soon.
I thought it appropriate, to pay homage to a great man. I will always be proud of him. He's a prime example of why we call them "The Greatest Generation."
Love and miss you Pop, you old fart!
James Francis L. 1924-2010