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One Year On: My Father's Passing

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Bloviating Zeppelin: One Year On: My Father's Passing

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One Year On: My Father's Passing

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:


Blogger Tim said...

I miss my dad, too. He's been gone for almost 17 years. He was 56, so at least be glad your dad had a long life. It gets easier, but not much. Losing a father is a defining moment in a man's life. You come to the stark realization that life is finite and that someday your turn will come. Better to focus on the love and good times you had than to mourn, as it's a waste of time and tears.

Wed Feb 10, 10:05:00 PM PST  
Blogger peedee said...

I truly dread the day BZ. I wonder how I will go on without mine. I am a girl, yet his namesake.

Consider yourself hugged by me thru the interwebs. You have honored your father beautifully through your writings. He's proud and with your mother up there watching over you.

And know I am one that appreciates every thing he and his generation did for me and mine every day. I do think of it often. They were the greatest.

Thu Feb 11, 04:39:00 AM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Thanks Tim. And that's correct. You link not only with your own mortality but, depending upon your relationship, you realize there is no fallback, no Plan B, that portion is gone. I think I'm starting to move from mourn to honor. I'm finally starting to realize just what men like him did for this nation -- boys, actually, very young men -- who had, literally, the fate of the planet in their hands.


Thu Feb 11, 04:42:00 AM PST  
Blogger Bubbles said...

It will get easier BZ, Please don't regret not kissing your father good-bye. Life is what it is and that was a decision you made at that time. You were already in the mourning process before his death. Deep down you probably knew he was coming to the end of his life, it was just hard to accept. You were good to your father in his aging years and that in itself was much more than a kiss good-bye. I am crying as I write this because I understand your pain and grief, as you recall my father died less than 2 months ago. Of course our circumstances are much different as your father was a part of your entire life. My father was a part of my life for the first 13 years and then the last five years of his life. I am so grateful for the last five years that he was able to give to me and I was able to show my love by forgiving him and being there to assist in his care. That was my kiss good-bye to him.

Thu Feb 11, 04:43:00 AM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

PD: thanks so much. I hope maybe you clicked on his funeral link. He got a full military funeral by pallbearers who could have been my grandkids.

Bubbles: I am again so sorry for your loss as well. I don't know why I can't just get over it and put this in its true perspective. There's just so much more I want to write and say but the readers here have humored me enough on the subject.


Thu Feb 11, 04:49:00 AM PST  
Blogger dmurray said...

Eternal rest grant unto them, oh Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon them.

Thu Feb 11, 07:40:00 AM PST  
Blogger Greybeard said...

BZ, your "Goodbye House" post was the first of yours I linked. Blew me away and had me blubbering.

My Dad died in 2003. We had a tumultuous relationship while I was growing up, then became better friends after I was drafted and left home. Our common interest in Aviation became our first real bond...
Our Purple Hearts became our second.

Bubbles is right, it will get easier for you. In my case, when I think of Dad, pride and inner peace come over me. I no longer think "I need to save that to show Dad 'cause he'd be interested in that". Now I just smile, thinking of how he's still alive because of my memories.

Don't punish yourself BZ.
You done good, and I'm sure your hero father is proud of his son.

Thu Feb 11, 09:13:00 AM PST  
Blogger Jen said...

What a beautiful post. My dad passed away 3 years ago and I miss him terribly. My father died suddenly though we had to make the decision to unplug him. I had the opportunity to kiss him goodbye but I didn't take it because it would have meant admitting that what was happening was actually happening. I was also afraid that if I bent over to kiss him in his hospital bed that I would simply crawl in with him and not let go. I was trying to maintain some kind of composer as he had always taught me.

Thu Feb 11, 11:14:00 AM PST  
Blogger peedee said...

I've read Goodbye House and was a blubbering idiot. I think it was one of the first post I ever read by you. I will visit all the post/links this evening when I get home from work and can cry alone.
Your post about him always seem to make me cry.

Thu Feb 11, 01:04:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bumps Stump said...

bz . . . Another terrific post. Thank you. My own dad was 4-F. Tried to enlist several times. Bad eyes. Bad back. No luck. So instead he worked the home front. USO and Red Cross. Sold War Bonds. Visited military hospitals. He too was a really great person and an outstanding father. Gone now 8 years. Still miss the old guy. Knew more British jokes than I can remember. Smiled more too.

Thu Feb 11, 01:57:00 PM PST  
Blogger Clint said...

Your dad was a hero; part of a generation that secured the freedom and success we have seen in this country for the last 50+ years. I am going to greatly miss the generation-for their love of country, value of hard work and faithfulness to family....all things our country needs in this moment.
My grandfathers, both passed away, were part of this generation, fought in the Marine Corps and Army Air Corps and taught me some valuable lessons that make me part of who I am.
No wonder they are called The Greatest Generation. They accomplished so much in their lifetimes, and their legacies will continue to live on. We could only hope that our lives will measure up to theirs.


Thu Feb 11, 02:15:00 PM PST  
Blogger Clint said...

When I was in the Army, I had the huge privilege of being on a funeral detail that I was able to honor another former B-17 pilot. I was so humbled when I handed the flag to his widow of 50+ years, that it was ALL I COULD DO not to break down right there and give her a giant hug. But I was able to keep it together. I was just remembering that as I watched the video of your Dad's funeral.


Thu Feb 11, 02:21:00 PM PST  
Blogger cj said...

BZ -

Another thing we have in common; we're both orphans. When I lost my mom in 2003, that was one of my first thoughts - I'm an orphan - in spite of the fact that I was 47 at the time.

My dad's been gone since 1977 and I've got to tell you that sometimes, when something happens or on certain days, it still can seem like yesterday. The memories now, of course, are the happy ones. I still miss them both something fierce but the grief has been muted by time.

I can tell you what I'm certain of - your parents are together and they will never completely leave you. Our loved ones stay with us. I feel my mom's presence around me all the time.

Take that for what you will. I wish you peace, solice, and the quiet communion with them both.


Thu Feb 11, 03:03:00 PM PST  
Blogger Ron Russell said...

It is hard, very hard to lose a parent such as your father. My father too was a member of that Greatest Generation and fought in WWII. My parents were married in l1939, the same year the German invaded Poland. He joined the army shortly after Pearl Harbor and went through basic training at Camp Fanning in Texas and later at Camp Shelby in Mississippi. He passed away 4 years ago and I often regret the many things I didn't say to him in those final days. Tears come when I think of that dear man.

Thu Feb 11, 03:22:00 PM PST  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

It's been a year along.

And, my God, I still think of my father.

My mother died in 1987, my father in 1998.

I think of both of them every day.

They were blest, and so was I in that neither of them had to go to a nursing home. Indeed, they spent only a few short days in the hospital before they passed -- as was their wish.

This past Christmas was the first time I didn't decorate their graves. I was too all-consumed in taking care of Mr. AOW, having brought him home here from the nursing home the day before Thanksgiving.

I'm sure that both Mom and Dad understand. As Mom often reminded me, "Take care of the living."

When the bond between parent and child is strong, we children will always miss our parents who have gone on.

Thu Feb 11, 03:45:00 PM PST  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

BTW, I didn't get to kiss Mom goodbye. The docs really didn't think that she was in any immediate danger.

With Dad, we knew the time was coming. I did get to say goodbye but wasn't there when he passed.

Looking back, I think that both my parents didn't want me there when they passed. Just a hunch on my part, but a strong hunch.

Thu Feb 11, 03:47:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Thanks everyone. Thanks for helping me get through this day.


Thu Feb 11, 04:09:00 PM PST  
Blogger David Wyatt said...


I simply cannot BELIEVE it has been a year already. I look at the calendar & see it in black & white, but it just doesn't seem possible. You have done so very well, BZ, & I know the Lord will continue to carry you when you cannot make it. You are exactly right that he was a part of the greatest generation. There's just no comparison to his & ours. We pale in comparison. I pray for you, BZ & thank you for sharing your heart so openly with us. God Bless.

Thu Feb 11, 05:55:00 PM PST  
Blogger Jo said...

I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and gone through one surgery when you wrote good-bye house. I live 150 miles from my children, and knew I would be saying good-bye house, too, since I had to move downstate for further treatment.
I thought leaving home would kill me before the cancer.
Long story short...your post showed what my children would be feeling, and helped more than you will ever know when that time came.

I was able to assuage any guilt, and smooth the rough spots for them and am ever grateful to you for that.
Hopefully, I will be able to go back home this spring.

I think your post should be required reading for any parent diagnosed with a catastrophic spared my children so much angst by exposing your heart.
God Bless you BZ, and Mrs. BZ.

Thu Feb 11, 10:11:00 PM PST  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

And, my God, I still think of my father.

It really shows how much you do, in your blogpost. Quite a tribute to the profound love of a son for his father. God bless him!

Thu Feb 11, 11:45:00 PM PST  
Blogger cary said...

(just wanted to let you know i think of you and your dad stories often, bz - just haven't been getting around to the links like i used to. i still miss my dad, too - missing our dads will go on until we are reunited. take care of yourself, my friend)

Fri Feb 12, 05:48:00 AM PST  
Blogger Old NFO said...

Well said BZ, well said...

Fri Feb 12, 06:17:00 AM PST  
Blogger shoprat said...

When I went to see my father yesterday I took along a cousin of mine who lost his Dad last summer. All the way home he talked about how much he missed his Dad and I miss my Uncle too. I am dreading what lies ahead but I am the resurrection and the life. Regrets will also be there as I regret having car trouble and not being able to visit Dad on his last healthy day. The question "Is that the last time I will see him alive?" haunts me constantly.

All answers may seem like cliches right now, but in the end we know that the dead will live again and we will be reunited.

Fri Feb 12, 08:52:00 AM PST  
Blogger Tim said...

I never had a "plan B" or a fallback with my father once I joined the service.
I now find myself in a much harder (and fullfilling) role: Father. Now I am the mentor, teacher, protector and provider. "Old ones died and new were born, life was changed, disassembled, rearranged..."

Fri Feb 12, 03:32:00 PM PST  
Blogger Law and Order Teacher said...

Please don't regret one thing with your father. Remember how much he meant to you and more importantly, how much you meant to him. I remember my dad's last moments surrounded by his family. I couldn't be with them. When he passed I walked away and cried to myself. When they left I kissed my dad and remembered how much he meant to me.

I'm sure like your dad he never stopped telling those he loved how much they meant to him. I remember at the grave when the sailors gave my mom the flag she looked so surprised. My dad never talked about his sacrifice for his country. I insisted that he get his military honors. My family thanked me.

I gave my dad my medal for National Defense and pinned it on his suit coat. It was a bond we shared. Your dad was a hero and I'm sure you're right. He's free and enjoying himself with your mom.

My dad, Korean War, is talking to his mom and dad, a First World War vet, his brother a Second World War vet, and celebrating the live they lived. They were the Greatest Generation. Us? Not so much.

Fri Feb 12, 04:27:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

David Wyatt: thank you for your kinds words, for following my blog, for commenting. It amazes me as well.

Jo: thank you more than you can ever know, for taking the time to write. You'll be in my prayers. Thank you for letting me see another view. Your words meant so much. I am deeply, deeply touched.

LOT: my father lived long enough to see me command the two areas I loved at work: as Rangemaster, being in charge of firearms and tactics, and EVOC, being in charge of emergency response and pursuit driving. He pinned on my Sergeant's badge the day I was first promoted.


Fri Feb 12, 10:41:00 PM PST  
Blogger Jenn of the Jungle said...

What a fantastic tribute to a wonderful man from a loving son.

Sat Feb 13, 09:47:00 AM PST  

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