Thursday, March 19, 2009
George Wesley Strain, Sr.
January 31, 1925 - March 19, 2009
My dad and I at the Grand Canyon 1967
My father died today. I received a phone call from my brother George about 6:00 PM. Dad has been failing. He has been losing weight and becoming very frail. His wife Nola said she went to bed last night and Dad said he wanted to sit up and watch some more television. When she woke up in the morning, Dad had not come to bed. He was still in his chair and appeared to be sleeping. Eventually she went to wake him up and realized he had died. He passed peacefully in his recliner. I am assuming a remote control was nearby.
Unfortunately, I have not been very involved with my father since I left home to go to college. The reasons are not important, but there was no friction, animosity, or any ill will between us; we just went in different directions. I saw him occasionally. He attended my wedding and my son's high school graduation. We saw him in Kansas City when we would visit, but it was minimal.
Dad had a new family and was involved with them. I had my family and time had a sneaky fast way of moving.
I last spoke to him on his birthday January 31st. We had a good conversation as we always did.
When he visited us in Louisiana for John's high school graduation in 2003, I interviewed him on video. I have him talking about his life and telling the stories in his own voice. This is very valuable now.
I loved my father and admired him. He was always around. I remember coming home from school to find him in his chair reading the paper, or sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee, or in the summer, walking around the yard sipping a cold can of beer. Dad was handy around the house. If he did not know how to do something, he found out how and tackled the job, not always with professional results as to appearance, but usually close enough, as it relates to function.
Some of my early memories of him were when I was in kindergarten. Dad's day off was on Wednesday. On that day, he and my mother would pick me up at school. I can still see him in my mind's eye wearing his light colored overcoat and standing in the hall waiting for my class to end. I remember the day he took me to the store to purchase my first baseball glove. I remember the pinewood derby car we built together for cub scouts that won second place. Now that I am a father, I know he must have been pretty proud of himself for that feat.
Dad was pretty easy going. He had a temper, but I could bring that out in people. I was not afraid of my father and I cannot remember any problems between us. He was not the best at expressing his feelings. I may get some of that from him. He was there though and he gave me the gift of time, from being a scout leader to helping me fix a go cart.
From a small town in Missouri, high school basketball player, Army Air Corps, working on mail trains, letter carrier - before "going postal" was a term, father of 3, scout master, dry humor, happy most of the time, loved by many, known by more. Going to the grocery store with my dad to get a loaf of bread could take two hours, because he knew everyone in town. He could have a conversation with a statue.
I do not really know how I feel right now. It is a shock. I feel sad. I feel guilt that I did not go see him more or call him more. But, I mostly feel grateful that I had him for a dad. I like my life and my son has turned out pretty well; I have to give my father some credit, because he was my father model to learn from.
Another member of the "Greatest Generation" has moved on, this one was my father and it is going to leave a hole in my heart.
Here's to you Dad. I'll miss you, but I'll see you again before you know it.
Until the next time,