My dad was not a sappy guy. He was hardheaded and independent and not afraid to share his thoughts about any subject with anyone. When I was growing up, I can remember my mom suggesting that he curb his remarks at work out of concern that his tongue might negatively affect his career path. Patience was not his strong suit, but he taught countless friends and family members how to water ski over many years, taking as much time with each as was needed to make them successful.
The year he coached my rec league softball team, I heard many complaints from my teammates about how hard he pushed us in practice. Our recreational league teams were organized by school. Our elementary school had two teams—the ringers and the rejects. Our team was the reject team. But that year, we won the rec league championship because of the effort Dad extracted from us in practice.
When my mom was diagnosed with an incurable strain of tuberculosis, Dad took early retirement so they could enjoy retirement together in the hills of Tennessee on Watts Bar Lake. Mom had a lot of good years left, but as she became unable to cook or keep house Dad took over those duties without complaint. He was devoted to my mom, and took care of her as her health declined.
After retiring, he got active in the little church they joined when they moved to the lake. He and Mom served in many ways there, and developed a close circle of friends. When Dad was admitted to the hospital last month, and we realized that his cancer was terminal, a steady stream of friends flowed into his room to visit. My husband, Jim, and I heard story after story of kindnesses done by Dad, and we were moved by the circle of love that surrounded Dad and us, not only during his hospital stay but also afterward, when he was moved to the nursing facility where he spent his remaining three weeks.
Dad left this world peacefully and gracefully in the early morning hours last Wednesday. Of course, I miss him already, but I was blessed by the way he lived his final weeks on earth. And even though there were many, many times I rolled my eyes or got frustrated by things Dad said and did, I am proud to be his daughter.