Today my thoughts turn to my Dad. Really, I think about my Daddy just about everyday. But, yesterday was an anniversary of sorts. It was 13 years ago and at the age of 56 that Fred Columbus Compton took his last breath.
If I am honest about it, I was not quite ready for him to go. I was 30 when he passed. I'd learned to appreciate him in the years before, but felt there was so much more for me to learn. Like how to make his world famous potato salad and tangy baked beans. I hadn't thought to ask before, when he was ill it was not important, and now there is no one that can get that recipe just right. Every try is a miss. A little thing I know, but a reminder of what was left to ask.
My Dad was the strong silent type. Tall...6'4", with baby blue eyes and a kind face. He was a handsome man. The kind that turned heads but never seemed to know it. He believed in doing what is right, doing your best in everything, and never missing the mark on anything. He served his country as a soldier in the Army for over 27 years. I think he would have made it to 30 years if the Army hadn't planned to send him on his 4th tour to Germany. He was ready to settle in and grow some roots at that point and another overseas tour just wasn't what he had in mind.
As an Infantryman my Dad was gone alot. Sometimes for thirty days or more it would be Mom and I living our everyday life just the two of us. Even so, he influenced how that life was lived. In addition to having high expectations for himself, my Dad expected the best from his family. Not in a harsh way, but in a 'I know you can be the best you can be and be that everyday' kind of way.
Yes, my Daddy had high expectations, but he also knew what being human is. When I pushed the limits as a teenager (and for the record I REALLY pushed the limits) he was there to guide me through the rough road I had gotten myself on. I don't remember scolding nor berating. What I do remember is a kind underlying support I could lean on until I got back on the right track. Which I did pretty much did each time.
I so wish that Dave could have met my father. Instead Dave hears stories of a man that lived his life by morals and values and ethics. A man that loved and served his country. A man that could be counted on no matter the circumstance. A man who worked hard, played and won at cards, drank beer, tended after his yard, drove on back roads, listened to Merle Haggard, watched basketball, never ever judged others, and saw the best in others so they could rise to their greater selves. A man who true to form at the time of his last breath was not afraid or focused on himself, but instead expressed his worry for those he would leave behind.
This is the first time I've written of my Dad. It is scratching the surface and there is so much more to say. For now, I am sending love and thanks to my father for protecting and providing for me. I lived a childhood knowing I was safe, accepted and cared for. I knew there was always a rock of a man for me to lean on. Now I know that was a great love. Thank you, Daddy, for everything. I miss you and celebrate your life. A life well lived.