Some call them the hero generation, the ones who grew up in and survived the Great Depression and then fought to save democracy in World War II. My father was one of those heroes. I had the honour of spending his last few weeks with him, supporting him and honouring his brave passage into the next phase of his life on February 6, 2011.
Many years ago, as a boy in the Depression, he sold newspapers and magazines to do his part to contribute to a family with an unemployed father who had lost his job, house and car all in the same week.
Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he reported for service in the US Army, in which he served in the Pacific Theatre as the rangefinder of an anti-aircraft battery. He took part in numerous amphibious landings on various islands including New Guinea and the Philippines. Then he served as a Military Policeman in occupied Japan. He did his Warrior duty for his grateful nation.
When, as a boy, I asked him about how the war was, he would say he thought of it as protecting his mother and sister back in Chicago. That is all he would say on the subject.
He returned from the war, like so many of his fellows, wanting to prepare for a job, meet a wife and have kids - the 1950s American dream. After an apprenticeship as a wood and metal pattern-maker, he began his career and met my mom. Soon they had me, and a few years later my sister came along.
His idea of what it means to be a man and father was to be the best provider. He did that very well throughout his life by working hard, always seeking better paying jobs, overcoming unemployment four times, and ambitiously buying a house in a higher income suburb of Milwaukee to ensure that my sister and I would go to the best school system in the area. For me, this was a combination of his Lover and Warrior energies - caring with intention.
His Lover side had a fun side too. He would fly kites with me, go fishing with me, and we would sled wildly on some very steep hills, at night even! He also supported quality family time together with numerous family vacations - sometimes staying in lake cottages, sometimes taking us on cross country tours from Wisconsin to Colorado, or through Wyoming or South Dakota, and also visiting our nation’s capital to teach us about our government.
My father’s Magician energy was in his hands. He could make or fix almost anything, achieving true wonders with wood and metal. He had intuitive talent, and this extended to building bedrooms for us in the unfinished attic of our home, building his own garage and a basement recreation room, and also adding a carport/porch combination. He did extremely precise tool and die work, and just before his retirement he was making exact models of prototype electric tools that were in development.
His decline in old age was hard to watch, but his magnificent King energy showed in the sovereign way in which he dealt with his death. It was a lesson in bravery.
After a heart attack damaged a valve in his heart, my 87-year-old father was at peace with the realization that at his age an operation was not possible and that he would walk the path to his next life in a period of weeks. As King/Patriarch/Elder of our family, he blessed us all: my sister and I, his grandchildren and baby great-grandchild, grateful for our time together with him. He had only the necessary pain medication and bravely went through his process with dignity and loving kindness and appreciation for his caregivers.
In his life he walked his talk, and lived his ethics. He was a good man, son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was not an MKP brother, but I feel his life was a good example of being one.