Friday, November 9, 2012

Veterans Recognition of one of my Favorite Veterans, My Dad

Dad was military Marine (during WWII).  After that it was college via the GI Bill, marriage and a family of 3, wife and 2 girls.    He was always a hard working man even in his last year of life as he battled cancer.  One of his expressions said several times in his lifetime to me, "Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, Nancy Jo"....While in military he apparently picked up the above expression as I believe there were no other military in his family line, although he did grow up in the port of Mobile, Alabama. He was deployed during wartime to a submarine in the Aleutian Islands.  I cannot imagine being in that hot and antiquated machine, so far away from home.

Afterwards, he went through years of College after the war while supporting a wife and 2 young girls.   Everytime I whimpered or whined or cried, he said this expression. "Nancy Jo, pull yourself up by your bootstraps young lady!"  Well his stern, firm voice got my attention and I went from huge heart wrenching cries to snuffled and muffled sobs with little girl heaving shoulders.

After a week full of expectations that I "toughen up",  little Nancy Jo (my preteen name) said between my sobs, "But Daddy you won't buy me any cowboy boots, member!"

Well that giant Man - 6 ft 2 inches and still growing looking at me and his frown and deep voice changed and a grin started and then filled his face as he reached down and held his baby girl, "Aw, you know you're right, you don't have any boots....I love you." as he gave me a huge hug that almost broke my ribs!!!! And I can still feel it to this day, decades later.

Dad I think of you keeping safe in such awful conditions, barely able to  communicate back home. I know you wrote letters daily, but they often left in a package only every month or so.  But choosing to protect the country that you loved, I never heard you speak much of the hardships and isolation.  I thank you for toughening me up a little, but NOT too much and I thank you for the ongoing examples of perseverence and loyalty and intelligence and most of all faith and hope even in the face of incredible uncertainties.

From all that you did for our family and friends and also for those who were wanting to be scientists and mathematicians, engineers and more, you helped open the doors to colleges for the non traditional students - women included! You were amazing and a pioneer in many ways.  I am sorry you were not well enough to go gliding but I think of how awesome those wings must be!

Dad, you know I always wanted cowboy boots but didn't get any till I bought some when I was in my late 20's but recently I was in my farming boots and literally had to pull myself out from a slide in the duck area!  Dad, I still love you and miss you and one day, when my time on earth is done, I know I will see you and I hope that God will let me have some angel boots with bootstraps, in case when I go "angelling", I'll let the folks on earth pull them up by my bootstraps!