That was the way he always signed his name. My Dad died last night. I’ll be leaving Monday afternoon to be with my Mom and siblings and their families. I’ll give you instructions tomorrow on what I want you to do with your remaining review sessions. I will be back Friday so our review at my house Saturday is ON. I’ll pass a map out in the morning. But now I’d like to share a few things about my Dad.
He was a bit aloof with me, with all of us, growing up. He was the middle child, born in 1923, his Dad, Edwin, and family struggled through the depression, and my Dad, reluctantly, along with his brother Robin, served in WWII. He was a freshman at Yale when Pearl Harbor happened and though he went on to finish his spring semester there he enlisted in the summer and after volunteering for every imaginable avenue of special training was finally sent in to the war in 1944 where he was engaged with a mortar battalion and helped liberate the Czechoslovakian city of Cheb. After his war experience he returned, on the GI bill, to the University of Wisconsin, to be near his family where he finished his degree and went on to get his MD. He met my mother Gene there.
I will always remember the night on or about my 21st birthday when, enjoying a drink before dinner (bourbon?) he started out of the blue telling me war stories. It was the first time I really regarded him as a man. By that I mean a man who struggled and fought, not for the country but rather for himself and his ideals. I know I’ve told you all he first got to vote in 1944 while overseas and the seargent, seeing he voted for Wilke, ripped up his ballot and said, “we’re all for FDR here”. Welcome to democracy.
In my growing up years Dad did not ever appear to struggle. He was aloof. He always seemed in control. I never saw him flabbergasted except maybe on the tennis court, or at the ping-pong table, or once when I was going through my own pre-teen rebellion efforts.
In my years after living at home, which actually started at 13, he frequently sent me letters. I wish I had saved them. He sent me letters while I attended boarding school and while I lived at my older sister Cally’s and at college and after my move thousands of miles away to California. His letters were invariable typed, dictated, somewhat chatty but always thoughtful and signed with his sweeping CN Steussy MD.
When he heard I wanted to get a teaching credential his reply was something like, “well he won’t want to do that the rest of his life!”. Regardless he was here for our wedding, saw his grandchildren, including his namesake, my 8 year old son Calvin, and after we bought our atrociously expensive house (by Indiana standards) and I was ensconsed in the IB program he seemed to accept that this teaching thing might be more than a short post-college foray.
My Dad lived a good long life. He, I think, was an amazing husband. I am more worried about my Mom now than anyone. Growing up though he may have been aloof to me, one thing I will always remember was his not just open affection, but out right respect of my mother. I have always had positive relations with women, as friends colleagues and superiors. I am quite certain that this was in part encouraged by witnessing my parents interaction with one another.
It can not be much of a suprise for an 86 year old man to die but it is still hard. All of those TOK lessons about being and identity, self and meaning suddenly bubble up with an intense realism. I know it is trite to say his body has died but his spirit lives on, but maybe the reason little sayings like that persist is because there is a real foundation of truth to them. He will live on through me in part maybe through the deepest devotion love and respect I have for my wife Norma. He will live on through me in my often irascible nature like voting against a sitting war president, and he will live on through my children at least in their own forays into the world of athleticism which compelled him for all of his years.
I hope he left with no regrets. I think he lived a good long life. I’m sure if anything he would be worried about Mom. I think we all are. That is the main reason I am going home. I fthere are any lessons here for a wider audience I guess you can gleam them for yourselves. Thanks though for allowing a bit of experience for me. I will see you in the morning, and will establish a footing for a few solid days of review so you all can g o on into your own irascible lives.
Love to you all.