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The Final Frontier   Leave a comment

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They say a journey begins with a single step. How many steps, then, does a person take during a lifetime?

Many, if the journey is full and rich, and one thirsts for adventure, seeking it regardless of where it might lead.

I have the privilege to be acquainted with such a person who rarely, if ever didn’t let anything stop him, forever fulling his adventurous spirit. That person is my Dad.

My father began his journey on May 29, 1929, the middle child of eleven kids, in Harrison, South Dakota. His family consisted of a mother whose family were pioneers dating back to the early 1800s, and his father who left Holland as a boy to strike out in America, plus all those kids. They lived on a prosperous farm until the market crashed and the Dust Bowl took what was left. Instead of heading towards California, this family headed towards upstate New York. After a few fits and starts, Grandpa bought a dairy farm. My grandparents eventually sold the farm but remained in the town until their deaths. Except for two children, all others left to see what the world had in store for them.

Dad went to college during a time when not so many did but the Korean War interfered with those plans. He served as a drill sergeant and travelled all over. Not long after the war’s end, he met my mother, a musician in a popular band. Up on the stage, she sang and played drums. Dad introduced himself. Within eighteen months, they married. Over the course of seven years, three kids showed up. My aunts and uncles started families too. Seemed normal to have thirty-eight first cousins.

Never one to sit still, Dad’s entrepreneurial mind created successful businesses throughout his working years. His active mind and imagination saw opportunity in the oddest of places. Even if the odds seemed risky, Dad tried it anyway. Sure, a few ventures bombed but most paid off handsomely. That gave him the resources to travel. Curious and adventurous, he and Mom travelled the country and the world, making friends everywhere they visited.

Everything interested him, from the heavens above to here on earth, no matter where or what it was. He held public office and made friends with senators, congressmen and politicians. Loved culture and attended the opera, concerts and theatre. Dad’s garden grew amazing flowers and vegetables. His many friends kept my parents entertained throughout the year

If asked, Dad would tell you his biggest source of pride was his family. Not just us, but all of it. Not just a beloved uncle, but a member perching on a long family tree. Our family history extends to the late 1400s, and thanks to Dad, he left it to us to remember who we all are and where we came from (Germany and Holland).

Three years ago, the journey slowed down for Dad. On a winter vacation, he disappeared for seventeen hours. Couldn’t tell you where he went. Back home, he repeated himself over and over again. His gait grew unsteady and his blood sugar went through the roof. Then Mom died. Dad’s journey slowed considerably. Over this past winter, it ground to a halt. He stayed inside mostly, venturing to the doctor, the barber, an occasional meal at several local restaurants.

On January 28, a mild winter day, I took him out for a morning. Got his hair cut, ate lunch at his favorite diner. Saw a few friends and said hi. Dropped him off home. Said I love you and see you next week. Dad replied he loved me and smiled.

Fifteen hours later, he died, in the same exact spot my mother did twenty months ago. His caretaker said his eyes were fixed on a portrait of my mother as he passed over into the final frontier, the unknown that is the afterlife.

Mom loved the stars in the heavens. I’ve no doubt the two of them are holding hands up there now, twinkling their smiles back to their children, their family, their former world.

 Mom & Dad Wedding Photo

xo from your daughter, Gretchen, Mom and Dad!

Posted February 7, 2016 by seleneymoon in Personal Anecdotes, science fiction, Writing

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