A Tribute To My Father


A Tribute to my Father

*** Note to readers: this started as a Facebook status update and I decided to post it here.
Missing this Irish man today.
Dad's article
He died 9 years ago in the middle of the night, technically December 11 at 4 am holding my mother’s hand. But I always feel like this is the day he died since December 10, 2003 was the last time I saw him and had to say goodbye to the father I loved for 29 years. Death sucks, but it is a part of life. Trying not to get all existential, but perhaps I should take this status update to my blog or journal. But you see I miss him. I miss him, and as grief has numbed the loss – a hole that death leaves, gaping in concave fragments of the heart, a sense of longing has replaced this. This sense of missing him, knowing he is gone. I miss him.

I miss seeing the veins on his hands, crossed in a holding pattern on his lap, a cigarette always tucked puffing solo in his lips. I miss his morning silence and two cups of coffee minimum rule: “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.”

I miss him.

I miss watching his gait, heavy to the left, limping, shifting the weight in stride to his other leg — the leg I now know had significant damage from frostbite from Korea. I miss his odd sense of humor and his incredible intelligence. I miss how he could talk to anyone. I miss his pride. I miss his pats on the back and how awkward he became when I insisted on hugging him.

I miss him.

I miss the way he could pack a car, no matter how large with flea market finds. I miss his Cuban wedding shirts. I miss his scarves which he always called mufflers and reminded me to bundle up on cold Wyoming winter nights before I left the house. I miss his anger, sometimes dark and black. I miss his garden and the flower pots he filled them with — stacked in neat rows around the brick wall around our house on Maxwell. I miss seeing him peaceful with dirt in his hands.

I miss him.

I miss the way he wrapped his shoelaces around his ankles, tying them pragmatically in double knots as an old man. I miss his grey hair comb over. I miss his kindness and Irish pride. I miss smelling Corn Beef and Cabbage every St. Patrick’s Day. I miss the strong scent of coffee in the kitchen of our home. I miss having a hell of a hard time trying to buy him the perfect Christmas gift.

I miss him.

I miss his voice and his ability to speak only when necessary in a conversation. I miss his knowledge and the statistics he could whip out on any baseball team in this century or the last. I miss that he could give the biggest compliment to me through a third person like when he told my best friend Heidi that she had to make sure I write because it is in my blood — “Make sure Megan writes; she is a writer — a journalist a poet. She is related to Percy Bysshe Shelley, you know? Make sure she writes — it is in her blood.” I miss his smile, sometimes rare and sometimes wild.

I miss him.

I miss watching him read thick books and biographies. I miss startling him if I walked up on him unexpectedly, giving me a sense he knew fear in the strongest sense of the word and I miss the sense of relief he had when he knew it was me. I miss his car — a long maroon Lincoln Continental plastered with proud Semper Fi bumper stickers.

I miss him: John Shelley Miller, my dad — the first man I ever loved.

My father and I on my wedding day (November 23, 2003)

My father and I on my wedding day (November 23, 2003)

My dad in Korea. He was a member of the Frozen Chosen who fought in Inchon in the Korean War,

My dad in Korea. He was a member of the Frozen Chosen who fought in Inchon in the Korean War, He is bured at Arlington Cemetery.

My dad and his friend from Korea.  This man called me shortly after my father died.

My dad and his friend from Korea. This man called me shortly after my father died.

My dad around Christmas time 2002 -- his last Christmas

My dad around Christmas time 2002 — his last Christmas

My father had a poet's eye.  I believe he took these photos on leave during the Korean War.

My father had a poet’s eye. I believe he took these photos on leave during the Korean War.

 

My dad stopping to smell the roses. This photo gives me such joy.

My dad stopping to smell the roses. This photo gives me such joy.



Fence

Fence

I send messages to my father through the birds. Cardinals deliver same day mail.  My father loved cardinals and I can’t help but think he sends me messages back when they whistle by me. My yard in North Carolina is filled with cardinals.  I see one weekly — at least.
My father and I on my wedding day, November 23, 2003

My father and I on my wedding day, November 23, 2003

Photos from my wedding

Photos from my wedding

Betty and John were special people.  Anyone that ever met them knew this.  They were storytellers and magicians.  They made people feel good.  Sure, like everyone they had their problems, but deep at their core, they were the pot of gold.  My magic - my love.

Betty and John were special people. Anyone that ever met them knew this. They were storytellers and magicians. They made people feel good. Sure, like everyone they had their problems, but deep at their core, they were the pot of gold. My magic – my love.

Believe


I saw this photo on Facebook today.  And that made me think of ee cummings’ poem, “I Carry Your Heart With Me.”  It really is powerful when you believe in your dreams and weed out negativity.  I have been working on this.  And I have also been praying about it.

“Would you carry all your mistakes, regrets and failures in a bag and take the bag with you where ever you go? Most people would say no. Then why carry them forever in your mind. Many of us carry a lot of unnecessary baggage with us everyday. What happened yesterday is gone forever. New days should bring new adventures. Everyday should be explored to its fullest.
Have a great day and remember to spread the message of positive thought with those that you meet. Carry in your mind, all the goodness and value you bring forth into into people’s lives.”
~Lessons Learned In Life

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
BY E. E. CUMMINGS
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Carry love in your heart; you will have a lighter load.

Anyway, I wanted to share it with you.  And feel free to comment about what your hopes, wishes, and dreams are.  Hope. Wish. Dream. Be. © – memomuse

Maybe by just writing them down, you can start the magic.  “If you build it they will come.” – Field of Dreams

By the way, I have been to Field of Dreams in Iowa.  I traveled cross-country with some friends after college, and we stopped there.

And I’d like to share my favorite Walt Whitman quote, “Be curious, not judgmental.”  Walt was a fine man, who followed his heart, which is at the center of the Attachment Parenting philosophy — following your instincts to love and nurture your child.

“Follow your heart and you can never fail.” – Stacey @ Moonstruck

Really, it’s an ancient thing.  Dr. Sears did not invent it, he just coined the term.

That’s my two cents on that!

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.  I will be posting a special post about Memorial Day.  My father was a Marine, who fought and survived one of the worst battles in Marine Corps history: Inchon.  He was a member of the Frozen Chosen.  I miss the heck out of my marine.  He passed away in 2003.  I am proud to be his daughter.  When I watched the documentary, Chosin, about this horrific war, it broke my heart to know my father went through this.  It was so cold — their eyeballs froze.  It’s in the documentary. 

Temperatures dipped to frigid levels and a veteran recalled a “mind-numbing” cold so intense that the troops’ eyeballs would freeze until they put their hands up to warm them. “It was 30-below zero,” Wiedhahn said. “You lived in 30-below temperature, all the time.” – Quoted from Military Connection article.

Megan Oteri © All Rights Reserved

Another interesting article about frostbite and skin cancer — the Korean War and frostbite.  My father had 70% frostbite in his legs.  He fought really hard to get disability for this too.  I remember how all the paperwork stressed him out.  He was a right brained person like me.  And yes, he had skin cancer.

Needless to say, I cried while I watched it.  He never talked about the war.  I wrote this essay about my dad and how he found peace in gardening.  He had a poet’s heart.  He taught me to marvel at nature and to be curious, not judgmental.  He taught me honor and respect.  In the video below — the first line one of the Frozen Chosen men says, “Freedom is not free.”  The website is http://www.frozenchosin.com/.

This photo was in the patio garden my mom and dad created.  That’s my marine.  I love you Dad!  Happy Memorial Day.  My father is buried at Arlington Cemetery.

This is a photo of my father, while he served in the Marines, during the Korean War. He is what some refer to as, a member of the “Frozen Chosen.”

In the documentary, Chosin

This is what my dad wrote in my journal.

“Keep up courage and hope.” – Dad 

What’s in your heart today?  I carry my father in my heart.  I carry courage and hope.  What do you carry in your heart?