"The song remembers when."
I've been doing pretty good in the missing Dad department. I still get weepy at times, and occasionally hear him call me in the night. Last night I had a dream of an old friend whom I haven't talked to in way too long a time, and I offered to help her with her husband. A part of my brain knew he'd been gone for several years, but the dream part of me was trying to figure out what to do with Suzi when I left. The interesting part to me was how fast I was ready to jump right back into caregiving. Mother Mary????
This morning I attended the funeral of a man who was a member of our church for several years. I think of he and his wife as Southern Gentry. They both stood straight and tall He saw battle on Guadalcanal. A few years younger than my father, he was still part of that generation. I'm not knocking the generations that came afterwards, but in my mind there was something different - special - about those men and women who grew up during the depression, served their country well and always carried that pride with them, no matter how old or feeble they got. Every Memorial or Veteran's Day we could count on Luie to come to church dressed in his military uniform. The fact that it still fit was surprising. His devotion to God, country and home, however, was never in question. His back and shoulders were straight, his shoes always spit polished, his medals sparkled on his chest.
I knew they'd play the Navy hymn this morning. I was kind of braced for it. But I hadn't thought of any other music which could start the flood of tears rolling. All it took was a recording of George Beverly Shae singing "How Great Thou Art." It was one of my father's favorites. I can't say for certain but I think he was probably rocked to sleep as a baby to great country hymns rather than lullabies. So I listened for a few bars, then my mind went to dad, lying in his bed listening to cd after cd of his favorite gospels. I realized I haven't played either his Tennessee Ernie Ford, Willie Nelson, or Alan Jackson cd in the 6 months he's been gone. I wonder, would they comfort me or just make me sad. I'm a little afraid to find out.
The Navy Hymn has been a favorite in our house for as long as I can remember. It was a common thread in the fabric of the lives of my grandfather, my father and my ex-husband. It is a prayer for God's hand to calm the waters and protect the men who work on the sea. The original poem written in 1860 was set to music in 1861. Since then some verses have been changed and others added for inclusion of different arms of the Navy, ie US Marine Corps, Navy Nurses, Submariners, etc.
[Somewhere on the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean, I think.
Maybe it's the Philippines, or Guam]
My father was a member of the Seabees. His construction battalions were often the first sent into war zones to prepare landing strips, dams, roads, and barracks for those who soon be fighting. He often told the story of shaving one morning when several Japanese zeros flew over his windowless barracks low enough to make eye contact. I'm not sure he got any closer to battle than that, for which I thank the Divine Seafarer who calmed the seas. However, he was known to reiterate W.T. Sherman's statement that "War is Hell" so I'm sure he saw way more than he ever talked about.
[I'm not sure who all these guys are,
but my Dad is the guy sitting down looking like he's on a Sunday fishing trip,
not surrounded by the big brass.]
Today as I think of my Dad and remember the life of Luie Fuller, I close with this verse of the Navy Hymn added in 1960 by R.J. Dietrich.
Lord, stand beside the men who build
And give them courage, strength and skill.
O grant them peace of heart and mind,
And comfort loved ones left behind.
Lord, hear our prayer for all Seabees,
Where'er they be on land or sea.
Today I'm grateful for the men and women who go into harm's way to defend and protect the freedoms we (ME included) Americans often take for granted. I'm grateful for the music that calmed my father's fears as he transitioned from this life to the next. I'm grateful for the privilege of knowing Luie Fuller and his wife, Mercedes.
Wishing for you today, the opportunity to revel in freedom and peace.