The flag at Fort Chapman.
I don't want you to think I am feeling sorry for myself, as I am not. But March comes in with a little sadness this year, since it was on March 26th of last year that I lost my Dad.
I say lost him, but that isn't really accurate. He's always with me--but I lost him here on the semi-solid ground we called earth.
In my life, I always felt he was the one person I could rely on--if the worst came to the worst, which it does from time to time--and I always could. So last March, as I knew I was losing him, was difficult. And it is tough now in retrospect, as March is also my birthday month, a month I have always enjoyed for its daffodils and blossoms.
March in my California garden.
I have thought a lot about heaven in this past year and I have asked lots of people what they think it is like. I figured my Uncle Joe, a devout Catholic, would be a great source on this. But when I asked him what he thought it was like he shrugged and said, "I have no idea." He is a very practical man.
We have a relative, now gone, who was a Dutch Reformed pastor and he told my cousin Karen; "I don't want to go to the heaven with the harps. I want the one with the trumpets."
A Lutheran minister I have known practically all of my life said: "I think it will be very exciting. Do you know they have discovered five new planets out there?" He is a brilliant man who was always a great friend to my father and I realized that his idea of heaven would be the excitement of eternally having new things to learn, and new worlds to explore.
As humans, it seems to me, we are in a dark room, feeling around for what eternity must be like, and, grabbing the elephant's tail, we make the whole into something we would like it to be. And yet we know it not.
So, for now, I'm going with my friend Pastor H's version of heaven--with Dad zooming out into the universe and going so fast he actually gets younger as he goes, ending up on one of those five new planets, a young man again. There will be lots of new flying machines there for him to play with and learn about and plenty of time to fly them. And, he can spend all the time he wants reading his Physics textbook.
So, I know I shouldn't be sad this March. Because he's okay. But I am missing him, as he has gone on such a long trip, and I have had to stay behind.
On March 26, in his honor, I'm going to bring the flag down to half staff at Fort Chapman, just for the day. I was privileged to share part of my father's journey with him and to have learned so much in the process. If you don't understand about death, you don't understand much about life.
And near the end of his life, my father grew more joyful. And I am remembering that as March comes in--more like a lamb this year, than usual.
Dad, sailing a toy glider at our local school, on another spring day, when he was about eighty-five.