My father, United States Air Force full bird Colonel Richard Lee Alley, passed away one year ago, on this day. February 11th, 2009.
He was 88 years old. He missed his 89th birthday by less than two months.
This year, he would be 90 on April 13th.
I cannot, still, tell you how terribly I miss him.
He was a part of The Greatest Generation.
The generation that secured promise and freedom and liberty for not only the United States, but for the entire world at large.
At the end of his life, he proffered large decisions. I had to make many of those large decisions. One of the worst for me was deciding to take him out of his very own house. The house where me and my two other brothers were raised. The house where he clinged.
First, I had to physically take him out of his house. Where he and my family had lived — for over sixty years. He said: “goodbye house.”
I wrote about looking at my father’s face in repose.
My Dad then passed away at 3:30 am on Wednesday, February 11th. The night before, I had been able to summon both my brothers and my wife to his bedside. Friends visited. I thought he would make it through that night. I was sure of it. My wife counseled me: “kiss him, kiss him goodnight.” But I didn’t do it. I tried to make light of his condition, that he’d be around the next day. I’ll horribly regret not kissing my father goodbye to my very own dying day, come what may.
I pondered what had happened, here. I reflected, once again, here. I thanked you, my readers, for supporting me here. My father’s funeral was documented here. There were more goodbyes for me, just selling my father’s car.
It’s been a year along.
And, my God, I still think of my father.
Except that, now, I know he was able to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with his wife, last year. That’s my mother and father above, in 1942. They were married on April 24th of that year. They eloped in Reno. My mother passed away at the age of 80, on May 14th of 2002. And despite that, he continued on for seven courageous years afterwards.
I can only hope, as I wrote:
I’ll bet my Dad’s flying high above the earth right now, in an open cockpit Consolidated Vultee BT-13, canopy slided back, where the skies are blue, the weather fair, and he’s young, strong and free. So free.
God bless you, Dad. Hold Mom’s hand. Step into your past, may it be untroubled and calm and fair. May your love be unfettered and limitless and beautiful. Whatever your ideal reality would be, let it be.
Here’s part of the sacrifice my father and The Greatest Generation made for all Americans and the entire planet: