Those of us “Of a certain age” grew up with the family fantasies like Ozzie & Harriet, Father Knows Best, and Donna Reed - who vacuumed every day!How sick is that? – in pearls and heels. Now, that ain’t right.
The reality is that most of our parents fell somewhere between Rob & Laura Petrie, Edith & Archie Bunker, and that couple on Married With Children.
We’re not here to elevate Tony to sainthood. We ARE going to celebrate who he was, a child beloved of God. A recovering Catholic who finally knew that a forgiving God overrides man made dogma.
A song from ‘Phantom of the Opera’ includes this verse:
>>Too many years fighting back tears
Why can't the past just die?
Wishing you were somehow here again
Knowing we must say, "Goodbye"
Try to forgive, teach me to live
Give me the strength to try <<
Tony was not perfect. I’m sure his 3 ex-wives would attest to that.
His relationship with his kids had bumps.
Now maybe we can let it lie because the fact is, you 2 weren’t Buffy and Jody, either!
So maybe today the scorekeeping stops and healing begins.
Daughter, you made a very profound statement - thru it all, regardless of whatever, you said you never wanted anyone else’s dad. Wow. That says volumes.
Fortunately there was some balance of positive parenting.
Oddly enough, much centered around water! Imagine that from a former Marine!
Sailing and diving provided cherished times to both Son and Daughter.
Tony was also always up for an adventure, like getting in the car and driving til they found something interesting. Somehow, Daughter reports, they often ended up at vineyards. Hmmm.
Evidently Tony could turn a common shopping trip into a mini vacation and was often asked to go along by friends.
According to NCIS Special Agent Gibbs – say it with me – there’s no such thing as an EX marine. The training Tony got would affect his posture, his gait, and his stance, for life.
Looking back at family photos recently, Daughter confirms that.
>>Wishing I could hear your voice again
Knowing that I never would
Dreaming of you won't help me to do
All that you dreamed I could<<
Tony encouraged his kids to be all that they could be, at whatever they chose.
He was proud of them, and boasted to anyone that would listen. Daughter expressed concern for seat mates to Tony on long flights.
Tony had a Marine’s pride in his family, in America, in the Corps, and in his cars, in that order. That is, until Riley was born. Riley moved to the top of that list, and everybody else was pretty much chopped liver after that.
Riley was in serious trouble the evening he was born. He was whisked away to the NICU where doctors worked all night to save him.
All night, one Marine stood guard at the NICU window. Riley would not have to fight alone.
In the morning, Daughter and Husband came to check on Riley. There was one Marine IN the NICU, IN a rocking chair, holding a bundle of wires and tubes with a baby in the middle. One Marine making goo goo noises.
>>Wishing you were somehow here again
Wishing you were somehow near
Sometimes it seemed if I just dreamed
Somehow you would be here<<
That was the other side of Tony – the big, mushy teddy bear.
If things were slow at the store, he played hide and seek IN the clothes racks with his grandson. Taught him the necessities if life, like riding a bike without training wheels, playing Go Fish, and real (reel) fishing.
Tony usually had a good word for whoever he met.
He sat at the bedside of a dying friend with the friend’s daughter.
He was a renaissance man, with a store of diverse knowledge and skills.
Daughter called him one day and asked how paper was made. And Tony knew!
>>You were once my one companion
You were all that mattered
You were once a friend and father
Then my world was shattered<<
Tho 75 years can be considered a good run, we actually lost Tony a few years ago to Alzheimers. That awful disease makes the whole family victims.
Have any of you experienced this in your families?
If so, then you know the guilt and responsibility family members carry. Maybe over the next months you can tell Son and Daughter that no matter how heroic their efforts, nothing turns the tide of that disease. It will move at its own pace, oblivious to the amount of time anyone was there, regardless of meds, in spite of round the clock staffing. Tony is finally at peace. We can only pray for peace of mind for his family.
But Alzheimer’s couldn’t get the best of Tony til the very end.
He was a regular at this church. If Daughter and Husband were both involved in the service, Tony sat with one of his old buddies in the congregation. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t remember their names.
I’ve been here a couple years, and I can’t remember their names, either, so he fit right in!
He stood for every hymn, book open. It may have been open to a hymn he liked BETTER than the one we were singing, and he sang it enthusiastically!
One day as Husband was driving Tony home, Tony turned to him and asked
“Why have you not married?”
Actually, Tony I did marry. And I married your daughter.
“O good! I really think you are a super guy!”
In tribute, Tony, here’s the last verse of the Marine Hymn:
>>Here’s health to you and to our Corps Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we’ve fought for life And never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy Ever gaze on Heaven’s scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded By United States Marines.<<