Life happens while you are busy living your dream as well as making other plans.
My Dad died tonight at 9:00pm. It was a day full of family gathering and togetherness in the nursing home where Al Goodrich, my dad, spent only about a week and a half at the very end of his 83 years. He lived through 12 years of Alzheimers which he and my mother navigated from their home, called 'Back Acres Ranch' on Goose Rocks Road in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Staying power is a profound thing--it can help you sustain through tough times, rough weather, rocky patches and blowouts. It's a decision, which my mom, Corinne, and my dad, Al, made at the beginning of their lives together in the military; and their staying power helped them to cope with the ups and downs of life, because they decided that they would. They lived in a generation that understood sacrifice and unselfishness.n
My parents did not just cope together, however, they flourished. Partly because they did not require much except their own elbow grease and a clear set of priorities based on right-minded living, and partly because my mother is a genius at making everything work and making it look easy.
Also, my Dad knew what he wanted and they made it work for them. They were full-fledged partners in their life. Last month, they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
Dad was unhurried and painstaking about his talents and developed them into hobbies that inspired other people.
Although not an intellectual or philosopher, per se, he took a lively interest in the world and was a lifetime learner, acquiring many skills along the way that in a way that inspired his children and others to achieve to their best potential. He demonstrated the confidence that a person could do anything they chose to with their life.
He believed that a person's circumstances created opportunities to explore.
His love of flying led him into building model airplanes, which evolved into buying and flying and then building them himself, in his hangar, on their property, where they made a landing strip in the field and took off with children and grandchildren in tow.
His mechanical aptitude and deep curiosity led him to work on motors and build things that helped save time and trouble. He also built two homes and barns and workshops and a hangar and furniture. They were the penultimate do-it-yourselfers; they didn't preach their lifestyle, they simply lived it.
My Dad came from humble beginnings. "I was born on the banks of Tyler Brook, 77 years ago", my Dad would say, long after he turned 77.
After beginning his education at one of Kennebunkport's two-room schoolhouses, Dad graduated from Kennebunk High School.
His father, George Goodrich, was a lobsterman in Cape Porpoise and his mother, Sadie ran the roadside clam hut called 'Sadie's Swimming Lobsters' on the Mills Road. Dad loved to recount the stories of his youth, including the time he helped beat the flames from the fire of '47 off the roof of his parents house at the age of 17. He is in a famous early photo of the town, playing baseball in the road down in the center of Cape Porpoise to hold up tourist traffic, he said. He had a talent for adventure and a head for detail.
When he started forgetting, Dad accepted his situation with grace and patience. He had by this time built an 'ultralight' an experimental aircraft and was a member of that esteemed organization, the EAA, who have stayed friends with my parents, who are considered honorary lifetimes members.
Prior to this, my Dad decided early that lobstering was not for him, and left his Swampscot Dory behind to take up a twenty year career in the military. At that time, you could not become an officer without college background. However, my Dad was one of the last people eligible to join the Cadets, a pilot training program. He earned his B.A. in history while working his way up the ranks to becoming, eventually, a Major, Crew Commander and pilot of B-52's.; he flew over 100 missions in Vietnam. He flew in many overseas engagements.
After his retirement, which came in his forties, Dad tried a variety of careers as teacher, supervisor, pilot for his own charter company, and finally moved the family to Kennebunkport where they built on their land and raised cows, grew a Victory Garden and practiced an early version of what would later be called 'sustainable living'.
When the grandchildren came, they were treated to the classic country farm experience. He raised four daughters who raised 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Through this all, their home has welcomed friends and family.
Saying that my Dad will be sorely missed is an understatement. That's the way how it is, he would say to us.