The following was written by my dad and posted at his request.
As all who have been through planning a wake and funeral know there are many questions to be answered and decisions to be made. It struck me as we left the funeral home that my father could be described as a letter carrier from Brooklyn.
My dad was indeed from Brooklyn and proud of that fact. There were many reminders of Brooklyn in my parents’ home, including three pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge in their kitchen. How he loved that Bridge.
He was a letter carrier – for more than thirty years. He also worked as a part-time custodian at a school and as a helper on a New York Post delivery van. Yes, he worked three jobs at once for many years to provide for his family. That was what he did not who he was.
If you read Samantha’s blog you already know a little about him and how cherished he will always be.
My dad was not a talkative man. He lived a simple life. He lived a happy life. He seemed to know the secret that eludes so many of us. He found happiness in the little things, like having coffee with my mother each morning for more than 65 years. He found happiness working on his crossword puzzles. He found happiness watching Fox News. He found happiness surrounded by family and friends. He found happiness on long walks. He found happiness sitting on the backyard swing, Spanky asleep by his side.
My dad was a proud member of the Greatest Generation. He was a proud veteran of the United States Army and served in Europe during the Second World War. That you all know. What you may not know is that block parties were common during the war years and before leaving for Europe there was one on his block and he and two of his friends (I imagine after more than a couple of Rheingolds) climbed the makeshift stage and sang Apple Blossom Time. What you may not know is how much regard he had for the British people. He would marvel at their resilience and explain how the children were sent to the countryside and the population slept in the Underground. Just a couple of months ago he mentioned he fought at the Battle of the Bulge. I thought I heard, for the first time, a bit of pride in his voice as he said he was with Patton’s Third Army for the battle. I asked what he remembered about that experience and leaned in expecting to finally hear him talk about such an historic moment. He simply said, “It was cold”. How typical. He did add something else. He said he was lucky because as a radio operator he got to sleep in a truck and not in a foxhole. Take a moment to read about the battle and the weather. “It was cold”, will give you a chuckle. He recalled that as the war was winding down and the Americans were advancing through Germany the utter destruction he saw and, in particular, the thousands of dead horses along the way. The German army was out of fuel and had to rely on animals for transport. You may not know that he was present at the liberation of a concentration camp in Germany. He kept this story to himself for over sixty years and when he finally shared this story he broke down and could not continue.
My dad, like many thousands of young men from all over America, answered a call. They served honorably and faithfully. They faced evil. They triumphed and countless lives were saved because of the sacrifices they made.
My dad, like so many others, returned home after the war and simply lived their lives. They found happiness in countless ways. Some, simply over a cup of morning coffee with his wife. A letter carrier from Brooklyn? Not my dad.