Yesterday in the early hours of the morning, my father-in-law passed away. He was at his home with his wife and son and, after a long struggle with illness, his departure from this world and return to God was mercifully fast. He had remained in control of his faculties and was cognizant of his surroundings right up until the end and his last days were spent with family sharing memories and laughter. For those of us who experience the loss, there’s no “good” way for someone we love to go, but the circumstances of his passing were probably the best that could have been expected.
He was eighty-years-old and had lead a full and rich life. He served in the Air Force and was a Korean War veteran. He loaded weapons on aircraft-first P-51s, later F-86s-during that war and was very proud of his service to his country. His patriotism and love for America was simple and pure. He always flew the flag (and always properly), always celebrated national holidays, and never questioned whether the United States was the greatest nation on earth. He knew in his heart that it was.
He was married to his wife Dorothy for fifty-eight years and they raised five children together. He lost two sons in accidents at early ages, but managed to work through that unimaginable pain with his family and carry on with life. He had eight grandchildren and they brought great joy, pride, and many smiles to him.
He owned a bar for nineteen years (and is probably mixing drinks for St. Peter as we speak). He also sold candy, radio advertising (for which he might have to spend a little time in purgatory if he wasn’t Lutheran), and worked for a liquor distributor before retiring. He liked to talk to people and was able to find ways to make a living doing just that. And he was a volunteer fireman and member of the American Legion.
In his spare time, he liked to fish, golf, and do woodworking projects. He always insisted on making things right even if that meant taking more time to do so. Sometimes, that insistence was frustrating to those of us just looking to get things done, but now we can really appreciate the quality and integrity of everything made by his hands.
From the first time I met him, he welcomed me into his family with warmth and friendship. I always appreciated that he was equally comfortable talking or just sitting quietly while we drank beer and watched a game on television. We always used to gather around his basement bar during the holidays and share some cheer. It’s not going to be the same without him there, but I'm certain that we'll all raise a glass in his memory.
Darrvel Bohnen Rest In Peace