Spoiler Alter: This post isn’t about a travel experience. It’s about a person – my Dad.
This blog is a journal of my travel adventures. I write it to preserve the great memories and experiences I’ve had while traveling. I also write it to share the experiences with others.
I keep it focused on travel and I’m strict with myself with what I post. There’s no recipes, no campground reviews, no product reviews, and no critiques or rants. What I write about are experiences that I what to remember. While this post is not travel related, it is about things that I want to remember about my Dad.
My Dad passed away recently. He lived a very long and satisfying life and passed quietly. His death surfaced many good memories that I have of him. I had the chance to share some of those memories in a eulogy that I gave at his funeral mass. The eulogy encapsulated some key thoughts and memories that I have about my Dad.
Instead of just filing it away, I decided to use that eulogy speech as a basis for a post about my Dad. It’s the stuff that I want to remember about him and I figure my blog would be a good place to record these memories.
My Dad was many things in his lifetime. He was a father, grand father, and great-grandfather. He was very proud of his family. He was a Navy veteran enlisting when he was 17 and served during WWII. He became a dairy farmer after the war. He was a college graduate. He became a soil conservationist after college and worked most of his career at the USDA helping other farmers. He became a boating enthusiast and for many years sailed up and down the coast of Maine. He also liked to travel, became an RVer, and traveled all over the US.
As a kid and young adult, I spent a lot of time with my Dad. He got me into Little League and Scouting. He taught me how to ski and sail. He took me hunting, fishing, camping, and boating.
It was boating where I spent the most time with him and have my best memories.
When he bought that first sail boat in 1971, we both learned to sail together. And just about every summer after that, when I was in High School, College, and after college (before I had kids), we would take a week-long boat trip together. Just him and me. I enjoyed those trips with him and there’s a couple of memories that seem to always surface to the top when I think about those trips.
One trip we took together was sailing a new boat from Cape Cod to Portland, Maine. It took us about 4-5 days to make that trip. One of our overnight stops was at Sandwich, Massachusetts on the Cape Cod Canal. We docked the boat and walked into town to get some diner. We ended up eating at a Church supper and had a great meal. Just as we were leaving the church, I said something to him (can remember what it was) about the meal that got us both into a laughing fit. We both couldn’t stop laughing. And we walked back to the boat thru the Village like two drunken sailors, laughing uncontrollably for almost 20 minutes. I still get chuckle when I think of that night.
The other memory was from a trip we took sailing in Maine’s Penobscot Bay. We sailed east out of Portland, Maine and made it down to Vinalhaven Island in three days. We spent the night anchored in Perry’s Creek on the northeast side of the island. The next day was a beautiful summer day with light winds. We sailed up East Penobscot Bay around Eagle Island and Great Spruce Head, over to Islesboro Island, Warren Island, and then back down to North Haven Island. We anchored in Pulpit Harbor on the north side of North Haven that afternoon. We went ashore, bought a couple six packs of beer, and went back to the boat. We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging in the cockpit chatting, drinking cold beer, and watching some Windjammers come in to the harbor. It was a nice way to cap off a beautiful day of sailing.
I have many great memories like the ones I just shared, but those two stand out in my mind as great times I had with my Dad.
The other thoughts that I have about him is that my Dad was a good man. Those words – “he was a good man” surface in my head when I think about him.
My Dad’s obituary highlighted how he spent much of life. When I read it, I noticed that he didn’t spend his time climbing the corporate ladder or seeking fame or fortune. He spent his life helping others and providing for his family.
He was a smart man. He was a life-long learner. He taught himself boating navigation, computers, investing, and how to use the internet.
He was a careful and prudent man. He was a good planner. He didn’t take risks and he was conservative in his actions.
He was an honest man. He didn’t have an ego. He wasn’t driven by self- interest. His focus was doing the right thing regardless of how it affected him.
He was a generous man – giving his time to local associations and boards. He helped people when they needed assistance.
He was a good listener. You could talk to my Dad about any subject. He always cordial and good natured.
My Dad had a strong Catholic faith. He lived by a code, a set of values. I know I inherited from him many of those values as did my brother and sisters.
When I say those words “he was a good man”, it reminds me of some words that someone once said me. The fellow who said the words, his name is Tommy and he’s the brother of a good friend of mine. Tommy once said to me “Jim, there’s not many of us good men around these days!”
When I heard Tommy say that to me I thought he was trying to be funny but I realized he was serious.
I’ve remembered those words from Tommy. Over the years as I worked for people, hired people, met people, and interacted with people, I came to learn that there was truth in Tommy’s words. Many of the people I’ve met over my life time have been good men or good women. But not everyone.
When I use those words “he was a good man or she was a good woman” to describe someone, it means that person stands out. They’re someone exceptional. They’re someone I admire. They’re someone who is one of the best among us.
My Dad was one of those people.