Of the many things I am grateful for today, I am especially grateful that 57 years ago today these two crazy kids (aged 35 and 44, ahem) took a chance and said “I do”. Everything I know about love and loyalty and faith I learned from them, my beautiful and beloved parents. Miss them sooo much!
NB This isn’t my photo–just my edit, and of course my story…
My dad’s family were tenant farmers during the Depression and quite poor–they lost everything in a fire right before the Crash in ’29. When my dad was overseas in WWII he sent all of his Army pay home to help the family (he was the third eldest of eleven). However, things were finally going a bit better by then, so my grandma stashed the money away in a savings account in his name. When he came home from the war in 1945, he used the money to buy the farm where the family was living, outside of Rush City, MN, and farmed the land while providing a home for his parents and younger siblings until shortly before he married my mom in 1963. I grew up in Minneapolis, but our yard was practically a hobby farm, given the ratio of garden to lawn! And most of my childhood weekends were spent at various relatives’ farms.
My dad has been gone for over twenty years, but I’m grateful for the lessons he taught me. To cherish the land and the gifts it provides, to treat Mother Nature with respect, to be observant of my surroundings, to treat animals with patience and to nurture both plants and animals.
And yeah, every time I drive past a wheat field, or see a gorgeous corn crop ready for harvest, I miss my dad. Like crazy.
“They may be older now, and grayer now, and their ranks are growing thin/ But when these men were young, these men saved the world.”
–President Bill Clinton, addressing veterans at Omaha Beach, on the 50th Anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1994
Bloody Omaha. My dad was in the third assault wave to hit Omaha Beach, the landing beach where nothing was going according to plan, which meant he faced water red with blood and a beach filled with the bodies and body parts of the dead and the dying. Oh, yes, and constant German machine gun fire and artillery shells, and nowhere to find cover. My dad was just a farm kid from Minnesota who had never heard a shot fired in anger. But from someplace deep inside he found the courage to move forward onto that bloody beach, and that day he, and thousands of boys like him, made history.
Today is the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.
Where has this cold come from?/ “It comes from the death of your friend.”
Will I always, from now on, be this cold?/ “No, it will diminish. But always it will be with you.”
What is the reason for it?/ “Wasn’t your friendship always as beautiful as a flame?”
Dedicated to my father and best friend, who died twenty-six years ago this month, on January 12, 1993. I’m still cold, yes, but am also filled to bursting with gratitude for that bright flame.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers the fear.
My dad, who was one of those troops so many years ago, once told me that only fools are never afraid. Being afraid doesn’t make you a coward, he told me. Brave people learn to go ahead despite being terrified.
This applies to all of us, he made clear at the time, and now I can see what he meant…me dealing with trauma therapy, my friends and family who have faced cancer, my friend who was suddenly widowed when her husband died of influenza several years ago…countless painful and scary situations, that so many of us from somewhere, deep down inside, find the wherewithal to face and overcome. I think that we are, all of us, braver than we realize.
Courage is not simply having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength.
It’s Memorial Day here in the United States today, and the weekend wouldn’t seem complete if I didn’t post some kind of tribute to my dad, Sgt. Leonard Henry Resch. He fought from Omaha (“Bloody Omaha”) Beach in Normandy to Leipzig in Germany, seeing action in the Battle of the Bulge, liberating a concentration camp and oh, yes, helping liberate a continent along the way.
He never made a big deal about any of it, but he has always been my hero, he always will be, and darn it, I just wish I had told him more often while he was still here.
(PS English friends—he was stationed in Selsey before D-Day, if any of you know it? A small village on the southern coast.)
“There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts.” –Neil Gaiman.
My parents have been dead a long time. Or not so long. It depends on my mood, how long it seems. My mom died in April 2007, my dad in January 1993. I often wonder what advice they would give me now, about being childless, being disabled and in chronic pain and often frustrated and depressed. Then, by chance, today I came across a quote that spells out what I know in my heart they would both say to me so perfectly, it gave me chills. In fact, I can hear my mom’s voice…
What happened in Charlottesville was evil. Pure and simple. The same evil my father fought in WWII, now come home to America, complete with swastikas, seig heils (including “heil Trump”) and chants of “JEWS won’t replace us”, and, in the end, murder. The KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists, spewing their hate, were out in full force.
This is not a partisan issue. It is not about who you voted for in November 2016. It is about good versus evil, love versus hatred, and every American who believes that we are all, each one of us, created in the image of God, must have the courage to speak out against the dehumanizing tactics and beliefs of the evil that had arisen in our midst.
My dad died suddenly, face down in the snow, 24 years ago today. It’s somehow unsettling to realize I’ve lived half of my lifetime without him, when on that nightmare day 24 years ago, I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it.
The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not “get over” the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.
Most days are okay, are fine. But there are still times, like today, when I miss him so much I can sense my broken heart twisting, aching, inside my chest.
The thing about broken hearts, though, is that even though they never fully heal, they get bigger, and stronger, and filled with more and more love. They become works of art.
You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly–that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.
I still miss you, daddy, but I’m so grateful I had you for 24 years, and that I have so many comforting memories and stories of you, and most of all, I’m so grateful you and mom taught me how to love.
And thank you for teaching me to dance with a limp.