Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sadder things

I spent this last weekend holding a hand that grew cold in the early hours of Sunday morning.

That hand helped me through much of my life.  No longer.  At least not in the flesh.

Nobody who reads this blog is likely to have known my father and given how little he talked about things he had done, few who knew him would know much of the many things he did.  He lived a long life and a full one.  Along the way he saw things few will ever see.

In his prime, he was simply extraordinary.  He could see and he could hear better than anyone I have ever known. That could be torture, as it was the time when a cat walking in the next room woke him from a deep sleep but it was what let him fly the way he did.  And fly he did in planes large and small.  He checked out Gary Powers in the U-2, flew P-47's and P-38 in combat and flew with me in small aircraft.  We fished and walked and camped across the western US and we lived in many places.

He didn't show off his mental abilities, but there too he could do things few others could match.  He passed a graduate reading exam in French without ever studying any romance language.  I saw him on several occasions understand spoken German also without having studied the language.  He spoke of the shape and rate of physical processes in ways that only somebody with innate ability in math could possibly do.

These faculties declined in age as they must with all of us, but even thus dimmed his candle burned bright.

But it did not last.  I saw it sputter and fade.  Then, between one instant and the next, it was gone.

3 comments:

Manish said...

Sorry for your loss.

LaRoy and Mary said...

Ted and Ellen,
We're glad you could be with Hal when he died and with Georgie. You wrote a loving and beautiful tribute, Ted.

Our love and thoughts are with you.
Aunt Mary and LaRoy

Paul said...

Ted and Ellen,

Sorry to hear about your father. I will always remember the trout he cooked after a day of fishing outside of Aspen, CO!

Paul Newman.