Wally Money - my dad was part of the greatest generation to have ever lived.
In the words of Tom Brokaw, "they came of age during the Great Depression and the Second Wodd War and went on to build modem America - men and women whose everyday lives of duty, honor, achievement, and courage gave us the world we have today." And the truth is - dad was all of those things and those who knew him have told me what a great man he was. Dad was kind and giving - he would give you the shirt off his back if it would help make your life a little easier. He was trustworthy and dependable - if he told you something, you could believe him. And, ifhe said he'd do something for you - he was there when he said he'd be. He worked hard to provide for mom and me and we never wanted for anything - we always had it. Family came first for all of us. We all knew that we could count on each other in good times and bad, sickness and health-no matter what. We were the 3 Musketeers.
Dad enjoyed life, nature, and the simple pleasures of everyday. He wouldn't hesitate to call mom and me to come see the rabbits, squirrels, deer, or other wildlife that passed through our backyard. He watched and marveled at the beautiful sunrises and sunsets each day and was fascinated by God's flowers, grass, trees, and how everything was so beautiful together. Dad was a gardener and in the Spring he planted a huge vegetable garden in the yard and flowers, flowers, flowers. He loved crabbing and fishing. We spent many wonderful days on the family boat - affectionally named the "Terry Lou" -on the Chesapeake watching the birds, boats, fish and crabs swim by.
After retirement, he and mom became two peas in a pod. They were always together and if you saw one, you knew the other was not far away. They took a lot of day trips - at least once a week to Lancaster to shop at the meat market, flower market, etc. In fact, they were at the hospital some years back waiting to have tests done. A woman sat nearby staring at them for some time. She eventually said to them - "I hope you 2 are married because you are a handsome couple and look like you should be married to each other." They were married for 59 years.
Dad believed in God and country. God was a part of his life and his faith in God is what helped sustain him through this illness and other trying times. Dad served his country as a pilot first with the RCAF and then the US Army Air Corps in England. He did 2 tours during WWII in Europe, Normandy, Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe. He was a decorated hero having been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters. When called upon again to serve his country as a pilot, he served a tour during the Korean War.
In these last few years, dad fought the most courageous and difficult battle of all - for his life. God had blessed him all his life and he had never been sick. Then, for reasons known only to God, he became ill- suffering with Parkinson's disease, chronic occlusive pulmonary disease (which effects the lungs and heart), and most recently - cancer. Mom, who had been the primary caregiver, was not well herself and it became increasingly difficult for her to do it alone. So, last Fall, I quit working to help mom care for dad. I'm so thankful to have had those many months to spend with mom and dad - all day, every day. Life is so short and it ends in the blink of an eye.
Finally, the son of a pilot who also served in WWII with my dad sent me this poem which I think is appropriate for my dad:
He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was graying fast.
He sat around the table, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in, and the missions he had done.
Of his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, everyone.
And though sometimes to others, his tales became a joke - all his buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer, for our Airman passed away, and the world's a little poorer, for an Airman died today.
He will be mourned by his ftiends, his daughter and his wife.
Yet he lived an ordinary... very quiet sort of life.
He held a job and raised a family, quietly going on his way.
And the world won't note his passing, though an Airman died today.
If we cannot do him honor, while he's here to hear the praise, then at least let's give him homage, at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in the paper that might say,
Our country is in mourning, for an Airman died today.