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It's been a month since Pops died. At times that month can feel like a year - or  an hour. I still feel disoriented, discombobulated and generally stunned. Folks are kind and loving and offer their support. I wish I knew what to tell them when they ask how I am doing and if there is anything they can do. Usually a shrug and a sigh and a half-hearted smile are all I can muster in response.

But there is one question that I can answer. Everyday I ask myself, "what would my dad do?".  Fortunately, I have a lifetime of data collected in the form of stories, memories and pictures to answer that question. Although his siblings did indeed call him "Saint John", my dad was far from perfect.  He was stubborn and could be obtuse when it came to really hearing views that conflicted with his own. He never let his kids or grandkids win at anything. He was a terrible tailgater in the left lane - or any lane, really.

So, my dad wasn't perfect. But he was a good man with a good heart who did good in this world.  And I will have lived a fortunate life if I can create half of the joy, love and goodness in the world that my dad has. And so I ask myself...

...what would my dad do?
1. Work hard. My dad worked hard - no matter the job. Whether leading his troop in Viet Nam, lawn care on a Saturday, managing logistics for the DOD or a family car trip, repairing/painting houses in underserved neighborhoods with his church community or creating a spreadsheet to equitably and precisely share costs between multiple families on vacation together.

2. Be reliable. Can your family and friends and neighbors count on you? Are you true to your word? You had better be.

3. Be present. Dad kept it pretty simple and clear.  Work hard and do your best (see #1 & #2 above). After that, don't waste your time worrying about X if there wasn't anything you could do about it. He wasn't intentionally Zen but he was very logical. (After all he was an engineer by training and a natural math nerd.)

4. Tell your people you love them. Dad wasn't a fan-fare kinda guy. Even with 55 years of marriage, there weren't elaborate love letters to my mom expressing his undying love for her - though he sent several dozens of letters from Japan and Viet Nam to my mom talking about the food and weather and what they would do when he returned to the States. Not romantic in topic or phrase but deeply loving in quantity and faithfulness of sending the letters. (Again, see #1, #2 & #3 above.) But dad frequently and easily told his people he loved them*.  It wasn't anything declared in any sort of special way - just a "Love you, Gal." "Love you, Bud." "Love you, Kid." (Kid was reserved especially for Mom.) And it was always accompanied with a hug a and kiss. And you knew he meant it.

[ *My sister tells a great story about our dad. He and our mom were tucking Amy into bed when she was about 3 years old. They said prayers and said goodnight. Our dad turned and headed for the door. Amy said, "I love you, Daddy." She says he stumbled out of the door like a deer in headlights. Could a dad say "I love you" to his kids? This kind of fathering had not been modeled for my dad. The very next night the scene was set just the same, Amy tucked in bed, prayers said, parents leaving the room and Amy says "I love you, Daddy." Dad hesitated for only a moment before he said in a somewhat awkward voice, "I love you, too, Amy." ] 

5. Keep learning. As was mentioned earlier, my dad was stubborn and nearly always sure he was right (annoyingly he frequently was right). But there were times when it was shown to him that there might indeed be a better way. (See the *Amy story * in #4 above.) Going through my Dad's paperwork and mail, I found a printed off article with bullet points and explanations how to recognize one's own white privilege and how to become an ally to people of color.

6. Enjoy life. Whenever possible - laugh. Dad loved laughing with his friends and families. He loved sharing group emails with jokes/cartoons. He had a well stocked library of "Dad Jokes" and would gladly share his favorites frequently. He was a smart ass who truly appreciated those with a quick wit and a salty tongue.  As I write this, I am picturing my dad laughing and smiling and the smile on my face is spontaneous and reassuring. 

So, to those who knew my dad, to those who love my dad, and especially to the 7 Grandkids of Grand B and Pop Pop, do yourself a favor. When in doubt, ask yourself, what would Pop Pop do? He wasn't perfect but he was pretty darn close. And he wouldn't steer you wrong. 

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January 26, 2021 - A quick note about dad's golf game

It's no secret that dad loved golf almost as much as his family.  He always seemed extra alive on the course and he literally was hitting the ball farther in his 70's than when he was much younger - credit to his golf coach Rita who straightened out that terrible slice.  Remarkably, PopPop had 4 holes in one in the last ten years (Cacapon, Hampshire Greens, Northwest Park, and Little Bennet).   The one at Little Bennet was on Father's Day and it was a foursome with Pops, Me, Lee, and Matt.   The tee box on the short par 3 was well above the hole and although it was a great shot, it hit the green about 20 yards from the hole.   It caught the slope though and slowly picked up steam.    We all watched as the ball tracked towards the hole and dropped right in.   The shouting was enough that the group ahead of us drove back to check what all the yelling was about.  

The golf course provided Pops with lots of opportunities for corny jokes and a chance to compete and test himself.  It was always a great way to spend time together and I know that every time I play will be a chance to remember how much fun he was as a father and a friend.


Message from Beth

Dearest Family & Friends,

I send my heartfelt thanks to all of you for your love, friendship, and many, many prayers this past week that has seemed a month long.

John was a lucky man who felt comfortable in his life and his choices, he had no loose ends, very few regrets, and loved life.  He loved his country and his God, his family, friends & golf, we do not question the order or his devotion.  He would have loved the script of his death.  A great round of golf close to shooting his age of 81 (he would want you to know that) and then to leave, too soon, but active and strong until the end. 

John chose to donate his body to the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Then he will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery.  Always the good soldier he will be buried next to family members who are resting there.  Because of Covid, we will postpone a Memorial Service until we can all gather together to celebrate a life well-lived and have a party that John would love.  I am hoping that can take place next August or September, depending on Dr. Fauci.  

We were married for 55 years and his gift of unconditional love for me and our children help us to move forward along with your many acts of kindness and grace, Thank you. 

Each day is a gift and a chance to love someone. 



From 30,000 feet

Time continues to pass slowly here at Morrison St. and I can't shake the sensation of flying in an airplane. I am looking out the window and below I can make out the patchwork of grief. I can see the shapes and colors of the varying fields of sadness, anger, loss, joy, denial, gratitude, love, regret. But I can't quite make out the texture of the feelings. I can't smell them or touch them or even wander through them. But I am confident they will wait for me to deplane and make my way through the gate. (My dad would insert a joke about my emotional baggage here.)  

I love you, Pops. I miss you. And I will keep talking to you and inserting your horribly wonderful dad jokes. 


January 24, 2021

Our sweet Daddy  has gone home to Heaven and I am sure that our Heavenly Father  has said "Well done my good and faithful son"     8:52 EST 

Mom, Scott and Jen were able to visit with him for 4 hours today and I  face-timed.  We read the 121 Psalm, sang song - even a couple of belters ( Joy  to the World a Christmas favorite ) and told stories about what a wonderful man he is.  We told him we would be ok and his work was done. 

He never grew old because he always learning, open to new information and  continued to love all the days of his life. 

He will be missed the rest of my life.

Thank you all for the kind words, sharing of stories and celebrating a life well lived.  We feel your prayers and good wishes

Move forward in love,  it is our greatest gift we can give each other.




January 24, 2021

Life is short, and we do not have too much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us, so be swift to love, and make haste to be kind.

And may the blessing of the One who made us, and the One who loves us, and the One wo travels with us, be with you and those you love, this day and always.  Amen

- Adapted from Henri Frederic Amie (This prayer was the closing prayer in the National Cathedral service that we watched this morning.)

It is with a heart full of love, sadness and gratitude that I share that my dad died this evening at 8:52. 

This afternoon after being removed from life sustaining support mom, Scott, Amy (via facetime) and I visited for the last time with dad. It was supremely evident that the man we loved was no longer in the room. But the strong and stubborn body of a lifelong soldier continued to work hard until the end.

We are grateful that his body, mind and spirit are all at peace. And because my dad was a bonafide tub of goo the last few decades, our family was never short on hugs, kisses and "I love you's". So no love was left unspoken or unshown. 

Cheers to you, Pops, for showing us how to love and laugh and live a life of integrity. You will always be with us.


January 24, 2021 - Things pop taught me

I've been blessed to learn a lot from my pops.   Among them...

how to grill, how to supervise others while grilling (nobody grills alone in this family), how to change a tire, how to pop the clutch on a stick shift to jumpstart the battery, how to golf, how to Yolf, how to curse while doing both, how to camp, how to start a fire, how to string popcorn and cranberry, how to throw a frisbee, how to ski, how to drive in the snow, how to body surf,  how to tell a corny joke (often over and over again) and a million other things.

Most importantly though he taught me how to be a good dad and be a good man, how to put family first and never stop learning and growing.

Love you pops.   Thank you  for everything.



121 Psalm

My family has a long tradition of sharing the 121 Psalm when our loved ones prepare for travel and new chapters in life. For more than 55 years my parents have been the best of travel companions - through joys, struggles, deployments, road trips, holidays, vacations, 3 children, 7 grandchildren,  the Viet Nam war, church leadership, neighborhood communities, cooking classes, travel, camping, art openings, advanced degrees, illness, surgeries, celebrations and all of the beautiful mundane days in between. And they have done all of this with humor, grace, generosity, faith and love. And aren't we lucky they did?!

121 Psalm

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. 

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. 

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.