My father turned 89 last month. He lived through the Depression, fought in and survived WWII, started a business with his brother and a friend after the war, wooed and married my mother, raised two children, reveled in his three grandchildren.
He rarely talks about his Navy service. There are only a handful of stories I have heard over the years--a prankster roommate, eating cold maple syrup out of number 10 cans on a brutal Atlantic crossing where the coal stove in the galley wouldn't stay lit, towing the U505 in secret when the Germans believed it scuttled.
I know so little of his life outside my narrow window as his daughter.
And now, I feel like that window is closing. My father is ill, he's been on dialysis for four years as his kidneys have failed. He has an aneurism that he would likely not survive the repair of and has decided not to treat. His wife of more than 50 years, my mother, is losing her battle to dementia.
He is the bravest man I know.
Not because of his wartime deeds, but because of his quiet determination to live every day in gratitude for what he has been given.
He is struggling, now more than ever, but he continues to face every day, even knowing this is a fight no one wins.
On this Memorial Day, I am grateful to have my father in my life. The man who continues to be my hero.