Saturday, January 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad

My father was born on this day during the roaring twenties. I was present when he died in 1986 after a courageous battle with lung cancer. I remember my mother standing over him weeping quietly, my brother sitting next to him with a long, set face, and my father obviously choosing that exact moment to leave us because it was time.

He was the most influential person in my life. Father, husband, lawyer, scholar, soldier, leader, doer, ethical man.

He just got things done with no fanfare. In WW2 he was a radioman in the Marines. At the battle of Okinawa he was atop a ridgeline during a torrential downpour when his aerial was struck by lightning.

This was one of the few war stories he ever told, none of which involved "combat." It came up in relation to another family member's description of a close encounter with lightning.

He said he was alone on a hilltop transmitting in the rain when suddenly there was a brilliant flash and a terrific sound. He was dazed and looked down to see sparks shooting from his fingertips. Then it got quiet and he realized that a lightning bolt had struck his extended antenna.

That was all he said about it but I asked him what he did next. I had visions of the forties equivalent of dialing 911 to get medical attention there fast, at least to look him over.

He said, "Oh, I got up, ambled around for a minute, decided I was okay and so I went back to transmitting."

Those were the days. That's the type of man he was. That's how he spoke. He was a hero to me.


David said...

Happy Hoo-ah for Dad.

Rainmaker said...

Happy B-day indeed.

It's always interesting looking at the WWII era individual photos. I've got ones of my grandparents as well. Funny how people look so different, yet so similiar 60 years later.