Ten years ago this evening, I was in bed at 11 o’clock at night when my phone rang. It was a Friday. As soon as I answered the phone, I could hear it was my mother, and I could hear that she was crying. She sounded scared.
I reprint this tribute to him and to my son.
Like any boy, I loved my father. A boy’s love for his father is not the affection you show for a lover, nor is it even remotely like the love of a mother for her children. You see, boys have a need to seek the approval of their fathers. They are driven by an overwhelming need to grow into even a fraction of the man that they perceive their fathers to be. Most of all, they want to earn the respect of their Dad.
I fought in a war. I gave him grandchildren. I became the first person in my family tree to graduate from college. I have delivered babies, I have held others as the life slipped from their bodies. I have pulled dying people out of burning buildings, I jumped in a lake to save a drowning man from an alligator. When my dad had a heart attack, I was the medic who worked on him. I have filled sandbags in Missouri to save flooding homes, sifted through ruined homes looking for the dead in disasters, and fed the survivors. All of these things I did, trying to be half the man I perceived him to be. I began to teach classes on medical procedures, hoping to teach the next generation of providers. Again, for him.
Then, he was gone. I carried him to his grave, and since that time, I have carried my grief around in my heart like a lead weight, and at times it has been nearly overpowering. I asked myself countless times if I measured up.
This morning, my son came to me with 2 movie tickets and asked me if I wanted to go out with him. We spent the afternoon with each other. I am proud of my son, as he starts his new job on Monday as a firefighter. As I looked at him on the way home, I realized that my son was trying to be larger than life.
Just like his Dad.
I finally did it Dad, I am just like you.
and to you, son: You have indeed earned my respect. You have fulfilled every expectation and dream that any father has a right to hope for his son.
My son? He is now larger than life himself. He is a nurse who is in charge of one of the busiest emergency rooms in the state. A Flight nurse, he flies critical patients on fixed wing aircraft, taking them all over the world. He has become one hell of a good man.