Monday, April 30, 2007

My Dad: Loved, Goofy, Deeply Missed (1945-2007)

My Dad: Loved, Goofy, Missed 1945-2007

It's still there... The shock of it all... No matter what I "know," it doesn't seem real. Wake up each day, thinking it was a bad dream or some kind of mistake, but knowing it's not. I know it has only been two days - two long days that seem to fly by anyway... We look at the clock and wonder how lunchtime got here so fast, then supper time, then it's midnight before we know it. Yet, it has been two long days, just waiting for Dad to come home from Iraq. On Sunday, we got a call from Steven at KBR, and he told us he was on his way to Dover Air Force Base to meet Dad - that Dad had already left Germany and was on his way to Dover. Everything around us seems to be going 900 miles an hour, while we are struck in slow motion, wondering what we are "supposed" to be doing, feeling like we should be "doing something," yet what do we do? So, we sit and talk, visit with friends and family, laughing and crying. We know things will get better, that life will be "okay," but when the world comes to a screeching halt, it takes a lot to get it moving again....

My Dad, Gerald A. Henderson, was weird. Seriously, a total goof-ball that not only marched to the beat of his own drummer, he had a whole band that was off-center and (lucky for all those who knew him) out-of-step with the rest of the world. He loved to laugh, to make people laugh. He never met a stranger, as they say, and there was none stranger than my Dad! :-) And, I say that with all the love in my heart, because it's true! He had the kind of humor that you weren't quite sure if he was kidding with you or not until he gave you 'the look,' which was usually followed by his trademark hand passing over his head, making a 'whoosh' sound, indicating that what he just told you went way, way over your head. When my brother and I were kids, we repeatedly told my Dad, "Don't act weird in public!" Which, of course, he not only ignored, but made sure that in public, he would often be at his 'weirdest.' My Dad could talk to anyone, WOULD talk to anyone, about anything for hours if we let him. He was not good with names (I inherited that from him), but he knew your face forever once he saw it.

My Dad was a great man - husband, father, grandfather, friend. Not wealthy or famous or powerful. He was great because he learned from the mistakes he made in life. So many times, he could have led himself (and us) down a much different road, but instead, he found his way to keeping things together. That was not always easy for him (or us), and there was a lot of teeth-grinding involved. But, he did it. He sacrificed a lot of things, even when he didn't agree with the sacrifice. In his own way, he showed us love the way he knew how. Once he went to Iraq, he changed... My Dad became the man he had always wanted to be - finding ways to show us his love and affection for us that he never had known before.

He passed away on Saturday, April 28, 2007, in his sleep. It could have been worse, much worse. And even in his passing, he managed to give us story that will make us laugh for the rest of our lives. I'll share the full story with you some time, but right now, I don't feel like laughing......

My Dad loved to smile, cuss, play on the computer (once I finally convinced him to get one!), golf, find a million ways to quit working (LOL, many of the 'get rich quick' info is still in the closet in Mom and Dad's computer room), love us the best way he knew how.... It took thousands of miles and lots of time away for my Dad to see what life was about - family - and he was ready to bring that new found knowledge back home. He was less than two weeks away from his first R&R, where he was going to meet my Mom in England and fly together to Scotland. He always wanted to see St. Andrews golf course and find out more about the Henderson crest... My Mom had the siding on the house re-done and was going to build a new deck to surprise him. We never sent pictures of the house to him because we didn't want to ruin the surprise. A couple years ago, my Dad had to sell a custom ring, and it crushed him. It had diamonds from his mother's rings.... Mom had to buy it back from the pawn shop and was going to surprise my Dad with it when they re-newed their vows in Scotland. He never knew she had it back. It was a surprise....

I am one of the lucky ones. Not long before my Dad passed, I had told him that I loved him. When he first went to Kuwait and Iraq, I told him how proud I was of him, and how much I loved him. I wish I had somehow said something more, done something more, something... But, I also know that he left this world, knowing how much we all loved him, no matter how goofy he could be (and in truth, BECAUSE of how goofy he could be). I miss him. When he got back, we were going to start playing some of our favorite games in multiplayer mode together.... A 38-year old son playing games with his 62-year old Dad..... maybe in another lifetime.....

While in Iraq, Dad often said he could not get any sleep because of the helipad behind his 'hooch.' Sleep well, Daddy.... You can finally sleep in peace.... I Love You, Daddy. We miss you, we love you, always.

2 comments:

  1. David we were not nearly as close when my Dad died 6 years ago. While I had 17 months to prepare for his passing it was still with a heavy heart that I watched him slip gracefully into the place that he was whole once again. I wrote in my blog that I had 17 months and you at best 17 seconds. I worried that maybe you had things that you wanted to tell him and I am so glad that you were able to say some if not most of the things that needed to be said when he left for Iraq. No, we never think we said enough, said the right things but he knew in his heart that you loved and honored him and that is what made his life special. The love that we as sons will always have for our Dads. John

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  2. I cried and cried while reading this. Your dad was a wonderful man and very special. We will miss him so much.
    -Chelle

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