Picture
We are now a little less than a month upon the interment of my father's ashes at West Point.  He will have full military honors.  The picture of him at the left is with his mother.  I love this picture because it has both of my life's heroes in it, Mimi and Daddy. And, they are sharing such a special moment.

My father grew up in a complicated world, and craved simplicity.  He was shy, but trained himself to be social.  Sometimes his shyness could be interpreted as distant, however, nothing was further from the truth.  He had many fires throughout his life, which he internalized.  It was always about others. 

Truth be known, he was brilliant, had an amazing sense of humor, and could be implicitly trusted.  He graduated West Point on D-day and was sent immediately to be with my Grandfather who was executing the largest military operation in history.  He was there for all of it, including the eventual reviews of the death camps.  He wrote much about Military History, and writing eventually became his passion, with a close tie on the Army.  I asked him a couple of years ago if he would consider taping the "back-story", he had seen so much that no one would ever know.  He told me that the information at the time was confidential, and remained so.  He took the back-story with him.  What integrity.  It is hard to fathom what he must have carried with him all of his life. 

Growing up with him, and all through my adult life, Daddy was my "go to", he always knew what to say, even if he didn't agree with the conversation.  When there was trouble, he built me up, when I made mistakes, he allowed them and allowed me to be myself.  He was there to help me figure it out, and I always felt wonderful after I saw or talked to him.  Everything was all right, not because "Daddy had this", but because he enabled me to say "I've got this".

On the 21st of March, it will be three months since his passing.  I will need the time at the very least ten-fold to adjust to life without him, I don't have him to consult with - this is the first time in my life where something huge has happened and I can't talk to him about it.  Admittedly, I do - all the time - reminds me of the song "What will I do when all that I have left is a photograph to tell my secrets to, what will I do".

If I had to find one word to describe Daddy, it would be "gracious".  He had an episode on Thanksgiving morning, as I sat next to his bed he told me he thought he was in trouble this time.  He told me that I would have to look after him.  I touched his arm when he said that, he opened his eyes and said, "Oh, don't worry, I have lived a good life."

He lasted almost another month, during which he ended up in the hospital.  I think his biggest fear about death was being in the hospital.  His own father had lived 9 months in one and died there.  It became his mission to get home.  After days of begging the doctors to let him go home, on the 20th of December, they agreed to release him as a Hospice patient as otherwise he couldn't be released.  Still, it took until early evening for them to get an ambulance to transport him.  His wife, Joanne, stayed home that day to coordinate equipment and such that he would need at home.  So, I was blessed with him all to myself that day. 

When the ambulance finally got there to take him home, I rode with him.  I think he would have passed a couple of times in the ambulance, but I kept asking him questions which kept that brilliant mind going - it meant so much for him to get home.  I think that was the most difficult thing I have ever done, putting him in the ambulance, I knew he was going home to die.  I realized then what absolute unconditional love means.

When we got there, the elation on his face when he realized he was home is something I will treasure forever.  Joanne had his bed in front of the window in his bedroom so he could see his favorite view, the pier.  He and I traded pictures of it for years - he was a wiz with the iPad.  It is the same pier as at the top of this blog page.  Below is one I took at Thanksgiving, thinking perhaps that would be the last time I would have the opportunity.  I did get to email it to him. That was  what it looked like when he got home on December 20th. 

After a few hours at home with him I was exhausted, I kissed him on the forehead and told him I was headed to the hotel to get some sleep.  He smiled wide.  I then told him I would see him in the morning, his brow furled.  I had the feeling it was likely that he wouldn't make the night.  He died the next morning, my birthday on December 21st, before anyone was up. The beauty of what you see in the picture below is the last thing he saw.  His personal stairway to Heaven.

God has his arms around both of us, and we are both okay. 

Hail and Farewell to an American Hero, John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower, you were a gracious man in life and in passing on.  I will love you forever.


 


Comments

Bobetta Clark Jones
03/19/2014 8:58pm

What a beautiful tribute to a great American and a loving father. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family Mary.

Reply
03/19/2014 10:25pm

Bobetta, thanks! I love you, Mary

Reply
Tammy Quidas
03/19/2014 11:19pm

I had the great honor of meeting your father through my grandfather. They were sitting in my family's garage in Trappe talking. He was very kind talking to a high school student. This was beautiful tribute to a wonderful man.

Reply
Mona Sabia
03/20/2014 4:34am

what a beautiful tribute to a gracious man. I empathize with your pain and salute you for the day you spent with him. That is so difficult to watch. The beauty outside his window is amazing and I'm sure he continues to be surrounded by similar sights. take care - Mona

Reply
Tudie Athens
03/20/2014 7:25am

What a wonderful and heartfelt tribute to your gracious father!!! and what a wonderful and gracious daughter you were to him!!! May God bless you always! Love, Tudie

Reply
Melody Black
03/20/2014 7:35am

A beautiful tribute to a wonderful man, the relationships we have with our parents and the sorrow we feel with their passing. I am truly blessed to still have my Dad. This May will be five years since my Mom passed away a few days shy of my birthday and Mother's Day. The anniversary each year is a strange brew of joy and sadness and the time when I always feel the closest to her. My heart goes out to you and you'll be in my thoughts and prayers.

Reply
Denise Tucker
03/20/2014 10:31am

What a wonderful tribute to your father, beautifully written with much love!

Reply
patrick boova
03/20/2014 3:05pm

beautifully said, Mary. Your mom and dad were wonderful to me when I was a kid. cleaning your swimming pool was my first paying job and your dad was terrifically patient as a first boss. you're dad's life was well lived and he certainly left the world better than he found it. i'm sure he was enormously proud of all of you, i'm also sure there's lots more work to do. hang tough cowgirl.

Reply
Mary Ellen Ott Trout
03/20/2014 9:06pm

What a beautiful tribute to your father, Mary. May he Rest in Peace and may you be always find comfort knowing how special you were to each other. That bond, and your dad, will live forever in your heart.

Reply
Ginny Verish Filipovic
03/22/2014 9:57pm

Mary, what a wonderful tribute to your father. It is not always easy to put pen to paper when so many emotions pull at the heart. May he Rest in Peace, and prayers to you and your family. - Ginny

Reply
Marilyn Berko
03/25/2014 8:53am

Mary- What a lovely lovely tribute to your father, who sounds like a truly fine man from a family of fine people. I never met him- just knew him as the ambassador- but your mutual love and respect is wonderful. I am glad that he had such a full life, that he was so pivotal in YOUR life, and that you were able to spend so much wonderful time with him at the end.

Reply
Karen Johns
03/25/2014 10:22am

Mary, my heart leapt with joy when you wrote "gracious" in describing your Father. Indeed he was gracious towards me personally each time we happened to meet in Phoenixville. He warmed me with his big smile and easy conversation completely dispelling any worry as to whether he would remember me. You, your family, and the world may have lost the shining spirit your Father possessed but he lives on in his legacy through his written words, his acts, and deeds including his never to be forgotten kindnesses to me. God bless John and all his family and friends.

Reply
04/06/2014 9:16am

Mary,
What a beautiful tribute to your Dad and your love for him.
God bless.

Your pal,

Gary

Reply
Linda Smith
04/22/2014 1:45pm

Just read the beautiful tribute to your father. Tears were flowing!

Reply



Leave a Reply

    Mary Jean Eisenhower is the Principal of MJ Eisenhower & Associates