Passing of The Chief

img_6863.jpgOn December 7, Friday, Pearl Harbor Day our father, Edward B. Feathers, passed away silently, peacefully in his sleep, in his easy chair, at home.

Known to his family and close friends as Talking Bear (a name given him by a friend of the family when he embarked on his five-year long, daily chat group) Dad proceeded to play on the theme of a Family Council and subsequently named each member of the online community:  Morning Star (Beverly), Laughing Waters (me), Bluebird (Barbie), and Skylark (Kathryn) – his daughters. He christened each grandchild also: He-Who-Digs (Tom), She-Who-Paints (Heather), Evening Star (Jennifer), Little Eagle (Nathan), Columbine (Amelia), and Little Bear (Liberty). Mary Hampton (his niece) and Aunt Marynelle (his only sibling) were on the Council as well as daughters of his WWII flight crew and life long friends of council members.

Each day Dad delivered the word for the day; Farmers’ Almanac, a link to a great performance, or (more likely) a link to the latest on alternative remedies for various ailments. He quoted poetry and invited council members to send their favorites. My sister Kathy inherited his gift for remembering poems and the two of them entertained us for years. Dad was a big fan of Jacquie Lawson e-cards which we all received on our birthdays, holidays, and just for fun.  At work it was great to take a moment to watch one of these beautiful renderings, with music and serendipity, and always Dad’s warm greeting.

These are the regular, simple things he did for us, that kept us all together and nourished our souls as we were out in the world with all its “slings and arrows of misfortune.”

We loved our father, this man of deep emotions never shown, of constant and steady love, and a bit of the rascal mixed in to keep the balance.

Dad had a profound influence on each of our lives and will continue to do so though he is now in another dimension. But as each day passes beyond his military burial – taps and the final words, “Please accept this flag from a grateful nation” – we are more and more in the knowledge of how much his life supported and enriched ours.

Members of the Council are casting about wondering who can take over to keep the online community going, but no one has stepped up to do so. Perhaps that is an acknowledgement that no one can take Talking Bear’s place. But I imagine after we all grieve and heal, a few of us may take up the staff to keep something like it going.

To My Dad

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

High Flyer

IMG_9975My Dad came home today from the hospital in full hospice care. He is on the “down wind leg” to use a sailing term, but in real life Dad flew bombers, and as a young teen, an old biplane in which he was smitten by the flying bug.  Maybe it was getting up over the green valleys of his Tennessee farm house, from the poverty and depression era stress that he experience as a child.  His eyes were always set on the far horizon and that dream eventually landed him in the Army Air Corps and a career as an Air Force pilot.

He is a High Flyer in many other ways, too. Though a country boy, he read Chaucer and Shakespeare and memorized the romantic poets whom he still quotes flawlessly today.  Tonight for example, through his gurgling throat, lungs filling with fluid, and an oxygen tube in each nostril, he lapped up his favorite dessert (Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream) and quoted two verses of A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.