One of my dreams and goals is to create a platform for the purpose of being able to offer a remembrance, a gift of Legacy to others. I feel it would be meaningful to be able to assist with helping a family sift through the pictures, keepsakes and memories of their lives to find their own very special Legacy; and in doing so, perhaps help them to see the gifts they brought to others. I believe that everyone needs to be heard and to understand the impact and measure of their life. Most of us want to know that our caring and love mattered.
My father, a very young eighty-six, looks to be closer to sixty. Still enjoying riding motorcycles around the country, he says, “if you can’t do what you’re passionate about, why be here?” This week he is facing a fairly serious surgery, which is why this subject came up today. My father has always known that I believe stories need to be remembered and told so that we may know why we came and who we are within the experiences of our life. Dad has always loved telling his stories and especially enjoys reading them over and over whenever I get around to writing them. In the past couple of years, however, I’ve noticed that his storytelling has taken on a tone of desperateness. He becomes visually frustrated when family members dismiss him with, “yeah, I’ve heard this one a few times now.” I imagine this is common for aging people and certainly doesn’t make them feel important or heard. I’ve been on both sides of this now that my own son reminds me from time to time that I have already told him “this or that”.
One night about a year ago, my father and I were having a midnight chat. I was sharing things I had learned from talking with people who had Near Death Experiences and gave him a book to read that was written by one of these intrepid survivors. He was noticeably relieved after reading the book. I was surprised when he started to reveal different stories; ones I personally hadn’t heard before. How was this possible with me being the question person? These stories were raw in the telling; and I was able to detect some underlying fear about dying. He made the comment, “well, I don’t suppose you know where you’re going when you’ve killed people.” In shock I said, “What are you saying Dad? Have you killed people?” “Well, not exactly,” he admitted to my relief. He then went on to share about the atrocities of war, in his case, the Korean War. Raised in a traditional religious philosophy where hell’s fires was a real place, my father seemed to harbor fears of uncertainty as eldership quickly approached. Even though I don’t personally believe in hell, per se, I can see hell on Earth most days on the news.
My father was just twenty one when he was drafted into the Marines; but oddly, he never talked much about it. I was still being wheeled around in a baby carriage in the few pictures I saw of our new life in North Carolina at the Marine Base. I love the picture of mom holding my hands so that I could stand in the waves of the ocean. My mother who was deathly afraid of water, ironically always dreamt of living by a lake, river or the beach. Even though she remembers those days as some of her best, even she didn’t reveal any real stories about their life there. That night, as we sat sharing our thoughts about life, it became clear that Dad was proud of how quickly he had been promoted through the ranks to Corporal. It was important to him that I understand that this was not common. He seemed to be flattered and laughed as he shared that his fellow marines called him, “The Wildman” even though I feel sure I have not yet heard that entire story.
I feel privileged that my father finally felt like he could open up to reveal the stories of what it was like to be so young with a new wife and a baby; and to be suddenly faced with the horror of killing or being killed. He said that it was not that rare to lose fellow Marines during training maneuvers, and disclosed racial in-discrepancies that were difficult to imagine. These were things I had never even thought about. Unfortunately, the ravages of war are not unfamiliar even today to so many others in the world.
I watched the movie “Sully” last night. Within the first few lyrics of the Theme song, the profundity of the words was a straight shot to my heart. Since the time when my son passed, I have chased the mystery and the meaning of life, purpose and our roles in each other’s lives around in my mind and heart for a decade. The lyrics for the song “Flying Home” were profound in their meaning to me. I believe they say it all and I wanted to share my thoughts about Legacy with other’s who just may need to hear the words to this song today. I hope you’ll take a moment to really listen. I have added Flying Home to Chad’s Playlist.
FLYING HOME by Tierney Sutton Band
Theme Song for the Movie “Sully”
TELL ME YOUR STORY, I’LL TELL YOU MINE
SING ME YOUR SONG, I’LL FOLLOW LINE BY LINE
DRAW ME NEAR, LET ME HEAR THE THINGS YOU’VE TREASURED
PATIENT AS FALLING SNOW
STANDING INSIDE THE QUESTIONS
ONLY GUESSING BY WHAT TRUTHS OUR SOULS ARE MEASURED
EACH OF US RISING FROM WORLDS UNKNOWN
WITHIN YOUR TRIUMPHS I SEE MY OWN
STILL THERE ARE JOURNEYS THAT ARE YOUR’S ALONE
YOU WERE BORN FOR THE STORM YOU HAVE TO WEATHER
TRUE AS A WINTER WIND YOU FACE THE MOMENT BRAVELY
YOU AND I, WE’RE ON OUR OWN AND YET TOGETHER
WALKING A PATH WE CAN’T DEFINE
TELL ME YOUR STORY. I’LL TELL YOU MINE
SING ME YOUR SONG, I’LL FOLLOW LINE BY LINE
LET THE NIGHT FALL WITH THE LIGHTNESS OF A FEATHER
TRUSTING THE COMING DAWN
WE CANNOT HOLD THE MORNING
YOU AND I WE’RE ON OUR OWN AND YET TOGETHER
FOR IN THE END, WE’RE ALL FLYING HOME