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My Father's Letter

Updated on June 4, 2010

Father and Son

Significant Birthdates

"I had to go read my letter day before yesterday," said my father on the phone.  He hadn't been feeling too good the day or two before I called him and he was telling me so with one of his coded messages.
Dad's most significant memory of World War II was the reception of his Honorable Discharge on May 28, 1946.  He was almost finished with boot camp and looking forward to returning to Louisiana when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on his birthday.  He didn't get back to Louisiana until he had toured Europe with Patton's Third Army and participated in the Battle of the Bulge.  He married a war widow and a few years later, I was born on May 28.  It was years before my mother convinced him to visit a doctor and get a thorough check-up.  In the early sixties, that involved a hospital stay of one or two nights and lots of tests.  It was (at least for him) a dreaded experience that he planned never to repeat.  

Circa 1947

A week or so after the series of tests was completed, he received a letter from Dr. August Street of The Street Clinic in Vicksburg, MS.  It was a typical business letter for that era.  It was typed on a manual typewriter (with very few, if any, errors) and signed with a fountain pen.  I can still remember that the doctor's signature was legible!  It was brief and thorough.  All the tests were negative and the doctor was issuing my father a "clean bill of health".  Dad kept that letter in the top drawer of his chest of drawers -- with his socks.  It was his evidence that he was healthy and should feel good.  It was also his reason not to endure such torture again.  For years, whenever he couldn't stymie symptoms with OTC medicine or Roi Tan cigars, he would go pull out that letter and read it.  It was a wonderful placebo.  

Just like him?

"I said 'I'd love to dad if I could find the time. You see my new job's a hassle and the kids' have the flu. But it's sure good talkin' with you, Dad. It's been sure nice talking with you.'" I grew up just like him. But I think he gave me more time when I was a child than I gave to him when he was in his twilight years.
"I'm still not walking like Tim Conway." Conway's character, The Old Man was one of Dad's favorites. He enjoyed the whole cast and laughing at their antics and attempts to make each other break character (which Korman did often as a result of Conway's ad libs). The Old Man's gait, use of a cane, and speech patterns became a benchmark for my father's own assessment of his body's response to the ravages of time. Every time I called him and every time he told me that, we shared a laugh. At the end of every conversation, he told me that he loved me. About six months before he died, I called one afternoon to check on him and he answered the phone. "How you doing?" I asked. "Well," he hesitated and caught his breath, "I've started walking like Tim Conway." We didn't talk long and I promised to visit soon -- which I did.

When the call ended, I cried.

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    • profile image

      Cindy Smith 5 years ago

      Very heartfelt.. Thank you.

    • qwark profile image

      qwark 6 years ago

      FCEtier:

      Thanks for becoming a "follower."

      I always end a conversation with my son with: "I love you"

      I hope that when I pass, I am thought of by him, as you do of your "Dad."

      Very touching "hub."

      Qwark

    • Cheryl J. profile image

      Cheryl J. 6 years ago from Houston, TX

      Awesome hub. A very handsome man. A wonderful and happy life you two shared together. A very heart-warming and touching hub. I salute your Dad.

    • M. Rose profile image

      M. Rose 7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Beautiful writing. What a great way to honor your dad. Thanks for sharing your memories with us!

    • bayoulady profile image

      bayoulady 7 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      Thank you FC for writing thistribute to your dad. He sounds a lot like my daddy.My Daddy was a World War Two veteran. He couldn't talk about it much. What he experienced haunted him. I learned a lot of what happened when he talked to other vets, and Mama told me a bit. He died in 2003, and I am glad that I lived close enough most of my life to see him weekly.

    • FCEtier profile image
      Author

      Chip 7 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Thanks again everyone. I appreciate all your comments!

    • Steele Fields profile image

      susan beck 7 years ago from drexel hill,pa

      I love the idea that he pulled out the letter whenever he got sick. What a wonderful story.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      My Dad died at way too early an age. He was only 55 and was also a World War 2 veteran. I've thus far only written about him in his early years. His Dad died of pneumonia when he was only 7.

      My mother remained widowed until just this year in January when at age 84 she joined him in heaven. I carry them both dearly in my heart and memories and miss them so very much.

      It is obvious that you loved and honored your Dad. You greatly resemble him in looks. Fine hub!

    • HappyHer profile image

      HappyHer 7 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      What a wonderful way to remember your father. I hope you visit him often. I know it can be hard to stay in touch when lives get busy, but at the end of it all, it's those times that will mean the most.

    • FCEtier profile image
      Author

      Chip 7 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Thanks cajunrooster, the emotion came thru in your comment.

      Thanks to all the other commentors, too.

      Near the end, Dad often complained that "I'm just too close to 100." and would laugh.

    • cajunrooster profile image

      John David LeCoq 7 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

      I wanted to comment on this hub a month or so ago, but I held off. My Dad is just not doing the best. And he is a lot like your Dad. He even loved Tim Conway and Harvey Korman. It's hard to see a man who was so vibrant and alive when he was young in the twilight of his life. We find ways to celebrate the life he lives now though and not the one he used to live. It's hard for me to even read about other people's fathers (and mothers). It's just a fact though that we all get old. It's easier watching myself get old than watching my parents though. This may be the most wonderful and beautiful hub I have read.

    • myawn profile image

      myawn 7 years ago from Florida

      Nice to hear about your wonderful Dad. Theres a lot of love. I miss my Dad everyday something reminds me of him we were very close.

    • Tony Flanigan profile image

      Tony Flanigan 7 years ago from East London, South Africa

      It is my one wish, that my kids remember with love when I'm gone. Even half the love that shines from this hub will be good.

      I'm pleased to have decided to follow you.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      This is a beautiful piece and tribute to your father....so honest and heartfelt. Thanks.

    • formerbronxboy profile image

      formerbronxboy 7 years ago from NOT THE BRONX

      FC, Parents are great mwmories. My folks decided to get married on July 4th.

      I willfollow you also, with pride.

    • FCEtier profile image
      Author

      Chip 7 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Thanks Joy!

    • Joy56 profile image

      Joy56 7 years ago

      so touching, i read every word, i feel i know you and your dad now.... thankyou

    • FCEtier profile image
      Author

      Chip 7 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Dallas, Stars, & Wayne, thanks for stopping by and for commenting!

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 7 years ago from Texas

      An exceptional story, very touching and very well-written. Thanks for sharing! WB

    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 7 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Thank you for sharing a very nice tribute to your dad. It is hard to lose those that we love and cherish. We always have them in our memories to remind us that they were special. God Bless You.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      A man know what and when to do what a man has to do... Enjoyed.

    • FCEtier profile image
      Author

      Chip 7 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Tom, Saddle, Val, Josh, & Silver, thank you all for your comments and for stopping by.

    • profile image

      SilverGenes 7 years ago

      I just stumbled in here by accident today - Father's Day. Your father's letter in his drawer touched me deeply. You have a wonderful way of painting with words. Thank you for this.

    • Joshua Kell profile image

      Levi Joshua Kell 7 years ago from Arizona

      A wonderful hub. It really makes one think about the temporal universes in which we spin. I am going to write my Dad straight away (he is in Iraq). Thank you.

    • valeriebelew profile image

      valeriebelew 7 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      I had to smile because my dad also served in world war II, and refused to see a doctor until he got way too old to do it. I wrote a short story hub, way too long, yesterday, titled Running on Empty, that dealt with Dad in his old age after Mama's death; however, Dad was pretty obstinant (probably mispelled, but coomments don't have spell check) about going to the doctor all of his life. He also talked about "Blood and guts" Patton a lot. Wonderful hub that made me both smile and cry. Weren't those guys something? (:v

    • saddlerider1 profile image

      saddlerider1 7 years ago

      Thank you FC for sharing this tribute to your Dad. I unfortunately did not have the chance to say goodbye, he was gone when I arrived at the hospital, although I did talk to him in his room as he lay still on the hospital bed. I hoped to have him tell me he was sorry for leaving me when I was 10 yrs old and to face the world on my own, I forgave him in that hospital room that day. But I carry the loss of my Dad around with me today.

    • tom hellert profile image

      tom hellert 7 years ago from home

      MY DAD BY HIS OWN ADMISSION IS A CRANKY OL' kraut. DOCTORS ARE STUPID DON'T KNOW ANYTHING HE IS ALWAYS "FINE FINE". MY DAD CAN'T WALK TO GET THE MAIL AT THE END OF THE DRIVEWAY-35 FEET without getting winded his pacemaker is 15 yrs old and was only good for 12 He was in the hospital 12 yrs ago for fluid in his lungs due to smoking-thats also when they put the pacemaker in- He does not drive unless its a short trip He is always cold-due to poor blood circulation . Slowly he is dieing and rhere is nothing anyone can do about it his doctor is a joke- I had the same one till I died...I just hope when he does go he won't suffer. Last time he was in the hospital he was scared snd polite.. an odd combination but I understand. HE DOES NOT LIKE HOSPITALS AND i was in the hospital for the six months he came 5 times I GUESS HE WAS AFRAID THEY WOULD TRY TO KEEP HIM...oH WELLI have prattled on.. good hub-

    • FCEtier profile image
      Author

      Chip 7 years ago from Cold Mountain

      I really appreciate all the comments.

      Thanks to each and every one of you all.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 7 years ago from Northern, California

      Thank you for that intimate trip into your life and loss. The abscense of key players in our life leaves a void never again to be filled. I am a 'dady's girl' to the end. My dad is in his late 70's and seems to be ...slower and uncertain in his daily travels. I w ill recall your words placed here this day should he be taken sooner rather than later. Your loss can not ne measured, your memories can not be lost.

      I Always enjoy your work FCEtier and continue to be a loyal reader.

      Beautiful story.

    • profile image

      Deborah Sexton 7 years ago

      This is beautiful! It made me cry for your dad and mine.

      My dad lived a long life, but the last few years I was very busy and didn't spend as much time with him as I should have.

      Though I told him "I love You" often, not as often as I wanted to. Blessings to you and your dad.

    • BJBenson profile image

      BJBenson 7 years ago from USA

      Beautiful hub. I lost my dad a few years ago and reading and writing hub on dads always make teary eyed.

    • Michael Adams1959 profile image

      Michael Adams1959 7 years ago from Wherever God leads us.

      Beautiful hub, I too wrote a hub to my dad I lost him Dec. 8 09 and miss him so much, these kind of hubs make me miss him more but brings back tons of memories, thanks!

    • profile image

      Ann 7 years ago

      Chip, this article is so wonderful.You spoke for a lot us children.

    • FCEtier profile image
      Author

      Chip 7 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Thanks drbj and sheila b.

      drbj, when the incident I wrote about happened, I grieved for him then. When he died, it was easier to manage, because I knew he had already dealt with it, too.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 7 years ago

      I love your Dad! He's who we mean when we talk about the Greatest Generation.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      A beautiful tribute to your dad, FCE, and the last line in your hub choked me up. That's real writin', my friend.

    • FCEtier profile image
      Author

      Chip 7 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Thank you!

      With the exception of the war years, he lived his entire life in Mangham, Louisiana and rarely left the state.

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      An intimatly enjoyable piece FCEtier...where did your father live?