I'm a steelworker's daughter, the first of the baby-boomer generation, raised on my Dad's WWII Navy stories, who misses him more every year. He sailed on his final voyage twenty years ago, today. There are countless things I would like him to know, so Dad, this one's for you:
You joined the Navy because of the attack on Pearl Harbor. You would be devastated to know about the attack on 9/11/2001, in the heart of New York City and all the senseless attacks in our schools, churches, movie theaters, marathons, transportation systems, police forces and on random individuals. How fervently you would have prayed your daily Rosary for peace.
Do you know that every man, woman and child now carries a cell phone, including me? They are no longer the size and weight of gold bars (roughly 27 pounds), but fit easily in pockets and purses. I can just see you shaking your head at technology. I remember how I used to love watching you develop pictures in your darkroom. Yes, we can take instant digital photos on our cell phones, but I miss the charm and intimacy of our darkroom conversations.
Do you know that you now have twelve grandchildren and five great-grandchildren? You also have three granddogs that live locally. One even lives in your house! They all would have admired and loved you. I wish you could tell me if dogs really do go to Heaven. I like to picture you playing with Cindy, our dachshund, that you bought for us so long ago.
Do you know about Facebook? I wonder if you would be posting your opinions, although I have my doubts. I remember how much you used to love writing letters to everyone from the President to politicians to friends and relatives. I still have the copies you made and answers received. When you left us in 1995, Bill Clinton was the POTUS. Since then, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have led our country. We don't know who the next leader will be, but I can imagine the blistering letters you would have written to Donald Trump. (Trust me, he wouldn't care.) I remember that "blistering" was one of your favorite words.
Do you know there is now a 47" flat screen TV in your living room? I can still remember my excitement when you brought home our first black &white television in the 1950's. Do you know that PBS still shows re-runs of some of your favorite programs like The Lawrence Welk Show?
Do you know of all the scandals in sports since Pete Rose was accused of betting on his own baseball team? I hope you and your boyhood friend, Stan Musial, are reminiscing about The Good Old Days. I loved hearing how you and Stan grew up and played together in Donora, PA, the Home of Champions. Did you really teach Stan everything he knew about baseball? I'll never forget how you took me to see Stan play his last game in Pittsburgh before he retired. How he spotted you in the stands and came over to talk with us. I still have the Get Well cards he sent you when you became so ill. Do you know that they named a bridge for him in Donora? I think they should name one for you, also. Just sayin'.
Do you know that the Civic Arena and Three Rivers Stadium no longer exist? I'll never forget how you took me to see Robert Goulet and Nat King Cole perform at the Civic Arena. Those nights became even more magical when the roof opened to let the real stars shine down on us. Dad, do you know how "Unforgettable" you are?
Do you know how bravely your wife and our Mother has struggled to survive without you? Your Rose literally experienced a Trial by Fire when lightning struck the house you built, causing major fire and water damage. She lived in our neighbor's house for a whole year while they were in Florida, and supervised the restoration process. As you know, she'll be 98 years old on September 21st. Old age is demanding a steep toll of her. We'll celebrate her birthday and also what would have been your 76th wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary, Dad!
Do you know how much we all love and miss you? We have faith that one day we will all be together again. To paraphrase the poem, The Ship, by Bishop Charles Henry Brent: You are not gone; only gone from our sight.
Sandra Warholic Seeley is the creator and author of Kanela's Korner and The Sandra Seeley Column. She is a lifelong educator whose teaching experience ranges from suburban Bethel Park, PA to Hawaii to urban Pittsburgh Public's Homewood, Hill District and Squirrel Hill communities. She has taught in every grade level from Kindergarten through Grade 5. She has a Master's Degree in Education from The University of Pittsburgh with a minor in English. Her passion has always been the teaching of Communications: Reading and Writer's Workshop. She is now a freelance writer. To contact the author, click the following link.