I took pictures of the pictures which didn't turn out too well, but here's my dad and me in Waco, Texas, a long time ago. He was in the AF at the time.
Dad had tons of lives, more than a cat's nine. He survived a mission over Germany, ended up in the hospital and then had to recuperate from his injuries for six weeks. His crew went down while he was recovering and all crewmen were lost. If he hadn't been injured before that, he would have gone done with the rest of his men. When he was on his 13th mission, his plane was shot down along with countless others. Only three of his crew members survived. And for 16 months he managed to make it through several forced death marches where many died. He was only 16.
But he had some run-ins with death early on too. When he was three, he and his six-year old sister were playing on a sandbar in Washington. They lived on a houseboat and the tide suddenly came in, sweeping away the four Norwegian children living on the houseboat next to them. They were all drowned.
Dad's sister screamed for help, and locals shoved boats into the rising water to rescue them.
Sometime after that, his sister was playing with matches, lit some paint products, their dad was a painter, and she caught the houseboat on fire. Dad hid under the bed, and she screamed for help. Neighbors formed a bucket brigade as someone ran into the house to rescue Dad.
Their parents were both away at work at the time. Those are only three of the times that I'll mention here. He had tons of other near-death experiences way before I was born!!! And a couple afterwards. Well, I'll mention one other. He and his childhood friend had hiked into the mountains and encountered a bear. They were sleeping in sleeping bags and the bear snorted around them, poking its nose at them. He had nightmares about that forever, even when he was older. Some of dad's stories, I've included in my own. What better way to capture true life events and turn them into fiction?
Dad was a great father, when his own wasn't. I always admired him for being a great dad when he had nothing to fall back on. He attracted kids and pets. They loved him. He wasn't without fault, of course. He was the most critical person I knew. On the other hand, he always said we could do anything we put our minds to. And he was living proof of that. He was so proud of my writing and was helping to edit my first book, loved it, had been a newspaper editor on post after the war, and loved photography, which was featured in the paper, and told everyone how I was a writer and would be a published author soon. Both Mom and Dad were artists and they didn't have enough money to buy a lot, so they painted all their pictures--everything was in a black and white theme. One of their paintings won first prize at a show.
When my dad died, I couldn't write. All I could think of was him and his funny sayings and all that he meant to me. I finally had to write his story in The Thirteenth Mission. It was published in the EX-POW Bulletin, and then I was able to write again.
To all those wonderful dads out there--thank you!!! Not all dads are great. Not all moms are. But when they are--despite their quirks, let them know they're loved. One day it will be too late.
I was glad to be a part of my dad's life up until the end.
Happy Father's Day, Dad, and to all great dads everywhere!!!
"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality."