There have been a few things going on in life, so I've gotten far behind on blogging.
Most notably, my father, Gerald Lee Baker, passed away on Sunday, July 19th. He was 86, just a couple weeks short of his 87th birthday. He died surrounded by the family who loved him. This was just four days after my parents' 67th wedding anniversary.
Its been very hard for all of us, even though we'd been expecting it. Dad had Alzheimers and died from its complications. I thought I'd done all my grieving months before, but I was wrong. The funeral service, held at Tahoma National Cemetery, really brought the finality of this loss home to me. I can't seem to stop crying; I miss my Dad so much.
Gimme always sought him out when we got to my parents' house. When Dad got frail and unsteady on his feet, I worried she might bump him and cause a fall. I needn't have. My boisterous girl slowed down and moved very carefully whenever she was around Dad. She just naturally seemed to understand.
Once when we were driving somewhere, Dad and Mom were talking about my nephew, Harrison, playing football. Harrison was kinda small for his age, so Dad was going on and on about how tough he was and both parents were saying what a cute kid he is. Naturally I asked, "Cuter than Gimme?" My Dad replied, "No, nothing could be that cute!"
I always knew I had a great Dad, not perfect, but perfect for me. So much of who I am, is because of who he always was. Dad was a traditional guy who didn't easily show his feelings, but they were there to see if you paid attention. I never doubted his love for me.
He worked hard all his life, leading us by his example. Dad was strong and wise and lived by old fashioned values. He didn't talk about what he believed, but he showed us what was important by his actions. He served in the military before he married my Mom and always valued the service of others more than his own. I cherish the memory of walking to the front with him, as father and daughter veterans, at a Memorial Day service a few years ago. He wouldn't have gone forward on his own, but did when I took his hand.
When I was a kid, during a road trip, we stopped to pick berries at a family u-pick. No one was there to take our money, so Dad left them the money owed in a place they would find it - it didn't occur to him to do otherwise. Honor is what you do when no one is watching.
I worked for my Dad and when I really messed up once, costing him untold money for materials and labor (mine and others), I expected to be fired. He didn't even dress me down and he wouldn't hear of me walking away. He bought more materials and I did it right this time. I didn't expect to be paid for doing them the second time and didn't log my time. Dad paid me for the extra hours anyway. I learned how important it is to persevere, clean up your messes and fix the things you break. A lesson I always tried to teach my troops.
Dad and I were fishing buddies and I have lots of memories related to family camping and fishing trips. I also remember once scooping several spawning carp out of the lake shallows and being so proud of having brought in such a huge haul. Anyone who knows anything about fish, knows carp are not particularly good eating and any fish in the midst of spawning is going to be the worst ever. Dad never said a word disparaging my efforts and set about cleaning all my big fish. I saw them get packed in coolers for the trip home, but don't recall ever seeing them again.
I have so many memories, but one of my favorites is the story of Little Sammy Ant. Its too long to write out here, but ask me some day and I'll share it with you. My Dad had a great sense of humor.
I miss him so much...