Just three short days after we said good bye to my parents and returned to the boat we received that phone call you know will some day come but you are never really prepared for. My dad had passed away, such a hard truth to absorb. He was such a special guy, and to say that seems a huge understatement. We traveled back home, the only place it made sense to be, with all the family and friends that mourned him along with us. Sharing stories and tears with the big, loving family he left behind made me so appreciative of the importance he had always placed on family, the knowledge they will always be there when you need them, and they all were. My mom's request was that his five daughters together say the eulogy, a task none of us wanted to take on, but how do you say no to mom? So as one of my sisters reminded us, in the immortal words of my dad, we kept a stiff upper lip and carried on. He meant so much to so many, here is a little of what my dad meant to me.
"There are so many lessons we learned from our dad. I have fond memories of having discussions around the dinner table. He would always listen to what we had to say, encouraging us to voice our opinions, but we were also expected to be able to support those opinions and back them up with facts. He taught us to think for ourselves. Much to his dismay this led to a couple of democrats in the family, but he accepted that was the price you paid for free thinking. He had a love of geography and history that he tried so hard to share, I wish I could remember the rhyme he would repeat to learn all the US presidents in order, but we all remember that he taught us to run serpentine if you were being chased by an alligator.
He taught us the importance of working hard, but I also remember him saying that every time after he visited our grandparents in Florida he would go back home and work even harder so that he could have that kind of life some day, it was important to work hard but also to enjoy what you worked so hard for. With that in mind we nervously sat down with him to tell him we were quitting our jobs, selling our home and moving onto a sailboat for a few years. I worried that he would think we were abandoning him when life was starting to get difficult, that we were being foolhardy and selfish. But he didn't skip a beat, he never thought about himself but was supportive from the beginning, and truly happy for us, happy that we were following our dreams, and when I think about it, just doing what he had taught us to do.
I loved that we could share experiences about places he had also traveled to around the world, flying into the Azores when he was in the air force, the tricky landings he made in Gibraltor, anchoring near Sea Cloud, the sailboat they traveled on during one of their many golf trips in the Med, and sharing stories of Atlantic crossings, his on the QE2 and us on a much smaller boat. I truly appreciate him passing on his love of travel and adventure. It finally made sense to me why he believed the most important lessons to learn were in geography so you could navigate your way around the world and history so you could better understand the people you met along the way.
We will really miss him, there is an empty place at the dinner table, but he continues to travel with us through life in the many lessons he taught us and the abundant love he shared will forever remain in our hearts. Love you Dad."
I know that my dad is with us as we sail away from the dock, and as we pull into a each new port I can't help but think, "Dad would have loved this."