Seems fitting that this WWII veteran should pass on Memorial Day. It’s probably the most important thing his great-grandchildren will remember about him. That he served with honor and bravery to help liberate Europe.
I’ll remember it, too. Dad’s tour with Patton’s 3rd Army is somehow mixed with memories of wearing his 2nd Lieutenant’s helmet as a child while we reenacted the deeds of America’s greatest generation.
I guess I’ve spent a lifetime consciously or unconsciously trying to follow his example. Dad was the most humble man I’ve known. Was. That’s a verb tense that will take some getting used to.
At one time, my dad oversaw a substantial business enterprise in our small town. But he never talked about it. Just like he never talked about WWII. He called it “tooting your own horn.” Dad didn’t do it, and he didn’t allow it in his children.
I sometimes went early with him, when it was barely light, to open the grocery store on Canyon’s square. And, while the six-year-old version of me swept the front sidewalk, Dad would be swabbing down a restroom. “Never ask someone else to do a job you wouldn’t do yourself,” he would say.
And Dad was generous. Maybe too generous. When the grocery business failed in 1969, the books showed thousands of dollars in accounts receivable. Through the years, I’ve had area farmers tell me how Dad carried them through those terrible drought years of the ’50s.
Finally, Dad was generous with his praise, too. One never left his house – family member or not, new friend or old – without feeling encouraged.
As I write these words, I hear my older brother calling Dad’s widow to assure her of his continuing support. Of course, he would do that. He’s one of Bob Bellah’s boys.