Flying North AA4650. With RTP.

It’s one of those moments in life when you remember exactly where you were, what you were doing, and how you felt.

In the old pre-smartphone days, it was the 3 am phone call, with the ring shattering the silence.  You fumble in darkness trying to find the handset praying…please, please, please, let it be a wrong number, and not something worse.

Today, it’s all about texting. And it was a text.

Yesterday morning.  11:00 a.m. Nashville, TN.  The first day of a 4-day conference in a large ballroom at the J.W. Marriott. The lights in the room were dimmed, the spots beamed down on the speaker on stage.

My iPhone screen lights up, flashing an iMessage notification.

“Please call me. Now. Important.”

“It’s my Dad.” Susan’s Dad.

After 35 years of marriage, you knowAnd it’s not good. 

  • He was 86 years old.
  • He was adopted, having never met his natural Mother and Father.  And recently, through a DNA/family tree service, learned that he had a Sister who lived in the ‘neighborhood.’ After 80+ years of no siblings, you have a Sister!
  • He was a member of Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation.
  • Married to his wife Clareen for 61 years.
  • He served in Military, not once, but twice.
  • Active (highly) in giving and fundraising for Shriners Hospital for Children.
  • Loving Father to 2 Sons and 2 Daughters.
  • He learned to play the piano without lessons.
  • At a moment’s notice, he could stand in front of room of hundreds and draw up an inspirational quote or passage or story, and light a room up.
  • He could walk into a restaurant, a stadium, an airport, anywhere…and he would run into someone he knew, or knew him. And he would rarely forget a name.

Family. Country. God. CharacterDecency.

I leave the event early.  I’m 40,000 feet up, heading home.

And I edit, re-write, edit, re-write, trash, re-write this post over and over and over, and finally give up.

I reflect on a passage from a Sarah’s McColl’s “Joy Enough: A Memoir” where she keeps snapping pictures and failing repeatedly to capture the beauty of the early evening light…”as if the attempt to reduce splendor to a single frame was to misinterpret its inherent scale.

It’s impossible for me to describe the enormity of his Light, and do it any justice.

He has passed…

But his Light will live on.

RIP Tom.

Comments

  1. Awww, pal, I am so very sorry. He was obviously a very special man. Holding you and your family close to my heart.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. i love the trying in vain to capture the moment of light, this is the perfect way to try describe trying to capture a life – beautiful tribute to a man who sounds as though he carried the light within him wherever he went. I’m sorry for you and your family’s loss, and happy that you shared his light with all of you.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. … and may his memory be eternal. Virtual hugs to your family.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Jan Morrison says:

    Dave, this is such a beautiful post- a great man
    Indeed!!
    One always knows that phone might come- we are never ready….xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ohhh, DK, I’m so very sorry. He was one of the true Lights, it sounds like, and your post did do him justice. How wonderful to have had him in your lives all these years. My condolences to you and your family. 🌹

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I know exactly what you mean in trying to capture a person’s light – especially one whose light shone so brightly.
    They are always too young when they leave us. I send you and your family my deepest condolences.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I got to know him, although we never met, from knowing his son. His son is a chip off the old block, and a great guy like his Dad. That’s your tribute to him, Dave. Sorry for your and your family’s loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The greatest legacy. To be beloved my many. To have led a good life. Peace be with you.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. At times like these words are not enough. May peace wrap her arms around you.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Stephen Landry says:

    I’m sorry for your loss, David. Thank you for sharing this post. A wonderful tribute to your father-in-law. My family’s prayers today are for you and Susan.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Beautifully captured. I’m sorry for your loss, but happy that you had him in your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. So sorry for your loss.
    Holding you all tight in our hearts!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. When I just happened on this post I instantly knew that it was something special – so many comments, a great photo —- and then the devastating news about your father-in-law‘s death. Apart from this most beautiful description of him, it‘s also a sure sign of your relationship to his daughter; you are all so close, you see them shining in their true light. What a life, what a wonderful person, what a great family.
    I love how Lee wrote: May peace wrap her arms around you. In French it‘s female too; la paix, in German it‘s male: der Frieden. I love that Lee chose the female ‚embracing‘….
    I‘m crying for the pain this great man causes your family but I couldn‘t think of a warmer and more soulful testimonial. I‘m sending you and yours a big bunch of hugs, thoughts and a prayer to get through the next steps. May Tom rest in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. montanalulu says:

    “after the news of the dead, whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you” ~W.S. Merwin

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I’m extremely sorry for your loss, David. To be blessed with having spent time with him must have been a very precious gift indeed. Sending love and light to you and your family. Cher xo

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Peggy Farrell says:

    Hi Dave. I’m so sorry. Condolences to you and your family. May we always remember the the Greatest Generation.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Linnea J Priest says:

    Clearly, his memory is a blessing. No “may be” about it. Love in action for his entire life!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. My thoughts are with you and the family.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Very sad day for your family, DK, and I’m sure you will miss Tom’s presence for years to come. My heartfelt condolences.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I have taken to having both my mobile and cordless home phone next to me at night because that call may come at any time about my dad

    Liked by 1 person

  21. “…as if the attempt to reduce splendor to a single frame was to misinterpret its inherent scale.” Yes. I’m so sorry, David. Thank you for this beautiful post that will touch all of our hearts. Much love to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I remember you sharing back in August about the family event when Tom meet his sister for the first time: https://davidkanigan.com/2018/08/11/running-in-michigan-in-retrospective/#comments so touching…

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I started scrolling, the top of the scroll a photo began revealing a man who I had an instant smile for…a man who I’d like to have a conversation with…his honor, care and integrity shines through the photo…then I started reading after smiling at the photo /// Susan, Dave, Rachael and Eric Your Loss is Tremendous, his legacy of influence through Love, Light, Kindness, Strength, Service, has impacted many and his Light lives in each of you who love him…sending prayers and sincere condolences…Kindly, Christie

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Aw, I’m sorry. I hope Henry Van Dyke’s “Gone From My Sight” helps, though nothing helps until well after the fact. Again, my heartfelt condolences.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. My sincere condolences David. What a kind tribute. Had to be great being in the family of a great man. I lost my Pop at 86 too. That’s a good run at life. Blessings to you, your wife and family. Doug

    Liked by 1 person

  26. What an amazing man — it sounds like he lived two or three lives in one. Sorry for your family’s loss. Take care. Julian

    Liked by 1 person

  27. A beautiful reflection of a special father, friend and man. Love to Susan, you and family. 🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  28. A touching tribute to a man who touched so many…my love to Susan, you and your family. May his memory remain a blessing forever..❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  29. So sorry to read this. My husband’s parents died decades before he and I met, so I so wish I could have known them. He sounds like a lovely man. Sorry you have lost him now and wishing you both the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I’m sorry for your family’s loss. He sounds wonderful. I’m reading David Brooks The Road to Character and thinking about that generation and what they had that we don’t. Brooks speculates that it was the desire and motivation to resist the temptation for self importance and self promotion. That and a willingness to acknowledge personal weakness and to strive to be useful decent human beings. I think he is on to something. Looking forward to digging deeper into it with him. Blessings to Tom on his journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I’m late reponding to the news about Susan’s Dad…just read. His lovely face and deep look gave me the feeling that this might be about a family member passing. Death is so drastic–even though I know that the spirit lives on, I miss those I love deeply. What a lovely life Tom lived–he really rose to the challenge life offerred him! The more love there, it seems the deeper the grief. Conversely, when love wasn’t expressed to the mourner’s satisfaction, another depth of grief arises. Tom certainly loved and showed it! Thank you for sharing him with us (twice).

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Anonymous says:

    So sorry to read this. My sincere condolences to all, specially Susan. Wow, an impressive gentleman.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. My apologies for these late condolences to you and your family, Dave. Thinking of your wife Susan and you and all your extended family in this sorrowful time … Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Sorry for your loss, Susan and David. The older we get, the more we watch those we love disappearing from our lives. And it occurs to some of us just how fleeting life really is. Here. Then gone. It really is mind blowing. Take good care of one another. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I am so sorry to hear this. He sounds like a fine man, much like my dear old dad. May he rest in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Sounds like an incredible human. How fortunate you got to know him. My condolences to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: