Fathers’ Day, by Sheila Deeth

We toured the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg last week. If you’ve never been there, and if you’re ever passing through the hill country of Texas, it’s well worth a visit. But you’ll need to allow plenty of time. There’s a reason the tickets are valid for two days!

Things I loved about the museum:

  • It gave the history and background, bringing different parts of the world before war to life, and inviting readers to ponder war’s various causes.
  • A timeline running all around the ceiling told what was happening in other parts of the world, tying war in the Pacific to war in Europe and beyond.
  • Exhibits abounded with human touches, the voices of real people, the small things left behind.
  • The big picture was beautifully and clearly depicted, with lots of displays showing troop movements, lessons learned, etc., followed by later movements using those lessons learned.
  • It brought to life, for me, the place where my father spent much of the war, in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.
  • It introduced me to a generous guide who asked what brought us to Texas and shook our hands when we told him our son is a doctor in the military.

My Dad told me once it was good, God’s providence even, that he’d been taken prisoner. If he’d made it out on the ship, he’d have drowned. If he’d stayed free another few days, he’d have joined the air crew and been killed. Instead he saw things no one should ever see, ate snake but could never say what it tasted like because one snake was shared between so many (“It was protein” he said), grew sick and nearly died, helped friends survive, and lived to father me. He died more years ago than I care to remember, but he is always close to my heart.

To my Dad.

Where you were then,

I wonder did you dream, or think of me?

Where you are now,

I wonder what great mysteries you see.

Where you have been,

I’m glad I’ll never go, for I am free.

What you have seen,

I’m glad I’ll never know. But someday when

We meet again,

I hope I’ll be all that you dreamed for me.

Thank you Dad. And thank you God for saving him.

Sheila Deeth is the author of Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum and Imaginary Numbers, coming soon from Second Wind Publishing.

9 Comments

Filed under musings, Sheila Deeth

9 responses to “Fathers’ Day, by Sheila Deeth

  1. What a wonderful tribute for Father’s Day. I’m glad he lived to father you, too! The world is a better place because of him and you and your son after you.

  2. Such a beautiful, clear, emotionally moving piece — my eyes are welling up, my goosebumps are just now fading. Thank you for sharing this, Sheila.

  3. A fine tribute, Sheila, to your dad. Reminded me of my dad, who served in the South Pacific during WW II. I never knew him as a marine; he’d retired from the Corps before he met and married my mother. He once told me he was convinced he would never return from Okinawa.

    “I hope I’ll be all that you dreamed for me.” I know I’ve disappointed my parents in some ways; but I hope also that I’ve made them proud here and there along the way of my life.

    • I know I’ve disappointed mine too. But somehow I hope the dreams that remain will be the ones we can all rejoice in.

      • I imagine all children must disappoint their parents, Sheila, in some way. I recall my dad telling me, through tears shortly before he passed away, of the violin lessons he hated taking for several years. His father paid twenty-five cents for each lesson, and the violin teacher gave my dad a sheet of music to practice for the next week; but he never taught him anything about music. My dad carried the guilt for the rest of his life that he’d stolen that money from his “old man” and felt he’d disappointed him. The ghosts of our parents truly do haunt us sometimes.

        I’m sure you’ll have much over which to rejoice when the time comes.

        • I suspect we parents and children are good at disappointing each other, building our own ghosts from the result, where love was meant to cover the thorns with flowers.

  4. Wonderful tribute, Sheila. Very touching.

    As a child of adoption, I never knew my birth father, although I searched for him for many years. Sadly, he died a year before I found his death certificate.

    I was lucky, though. I had a wonderful, adopted dad. He and my adopted mom are pictured on a bookshelf in my office, so I greet them every day.

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