Today is Memorial Day in the United States. Unofficially, it’s the official start to summer. We suspend all working activities of a Monday to go to parades, have picnics and for some people, travel to a destination far away from home for a vacation. The day is set aside to remember and appreciate the men and women who have died protecting our country. Many of us still do that, but today I find myself using my Memorial Day in a different way.
My father is lying in a hospital waiting for his angel wings. He’s at the end of a long, rich life. He’s dying.
And I’m remembering all the good times I spent with my Dad. Like going to several Christmas tree lots to find the “right” tree to decorate our living room. Like carving the Thanksgiving turkey and giggling as we both snitched little pieces of the juicy meat, while we piled the slices onto a platter for everybody else. Like the rides we took on a hot Sunday afternoon. Like going to a father-daughter breakfast at church when I proudly sat beside my Dad and he treated me like his date for the day.
I’m feeling lucky I had such a loving father. He was strict, but he never punished with the slap of a belt. He sacrificed for his family in so many ways, and he protected us always. He built us a lovely home with his own two hands. He loved my mother with everything in him. He showed us how to be good people–to love our families, to give to our communities and to be independent.
Even though my father is a World War II veteran, he was never decorated as a war hero. Instead he has a more important distinction; he was my hero. And his time has come to leave, and we both know it. Now we wait until our time together is over. He will breathe his last breath very soon, and I will remember the good times alone.