Today is my Daddy’s birthday. Were he alive, Norman would be celebrating 88 years.
He was the first man who won my heart. He wasn’t a perfect man, but he loved my mother and did his best to provide her and their children a good life. Never having finished the eighth grade, he made his way with hard work and perseverance.
Norman served in the Army in World War II, one of the many who landed (and survived) on the beaches at Normandy. The emotional trauma of D-Day took its toll and he suffered what (in those days) was termed a “nervous breakdown.” Refusing to be sent home, he received hospital treatment and drove a supply truck back and forth to the front lines until the War ended. Dad was a lifelong learner. Despite his limited education, he continued to be well-read. He never had a seminary education, but he knew the Bible and studied it daily. One of my fondest memories is seeing him before daybreak on his knees in prayer in his study.
He was also a diarist, someone who wrote letters and poetry for personal enjoyment and retrospection. He had beautiful handwriting! Many of his poems and personal letters were written on motel stationery (Holiday Inn, Howard Johnson’s, Ramada Inn), composed wherever he landed for the night with his truck-driving job. Had he lived longer, perhaps he’d have spent some of those solitary hours contributing to a reflective blog.
In his last year, he underwent brain surgery to remove a golf ball-sized tumor. Before they took him into surgery, he told the nurses whether he lived through the procedure or died on the table, he was confident in God’s goodness. He lived, but he knew the tumor would return eventually and resolved never to undergo another surgery.
When the end drew near, he and Mom agreed together that he should not be in the hospital. With the aid of Hospice, Mom cared for him and laid by his side on the bed as he passed from this world into his Savior’s arms.
Happy Birthday, Dad. See you on The Other Side.