I recently returned from visiting my mother and stepfather in Florida. My stepfather, Carl, had a stroke about a year ago, and has been in the nursing home ever since. And while his body is not functioning as he would like, and he has trouble completing his thoughts verbally, his mind is not impaired. It was good to see him and see his devilish little smile every now and then. The sense of humor is still there. But as one more of the Greatest Generation, he is fighting his final battle.
I don't know much about his service during WWII. He never really talked about it. I know he was wounded, spent time in the hospital in England, and later served as a driver in Germany. What I do know is that Carl's service to his friends, family and his clients over the years, was heartfelt and worthy of so much respect I can hardly find a way to express it.
Carl has always been a caretaker. His father died when he was about 11, so his mom became the breadwinner and Carl looked out for his younger sister. He joined the military right after high school and before he was 18, so he could begin to find his own way in the world. His first wife died of cancer, and he cared for her during her struggle. He was a good dad and always provided for his daughter. He became an insurance agent and looked out for the best interests of his clients. When my mom was widowed and he was widowed, they married and he has cared for her for over 20 years. So now that he cannot be the caretaker, it is very frustrating and difficult for him. It must be like reinventing yourself all over again, but without the stamina of youth.
But what a legacy he leaves! He is one of the finest examples I know of looking out for your loved ones and living your life to be of service to others. He's not a saint, but he is a very good man. I'm so proud that I have been part of his life for the last 20 years and that he and my mom are having what they call "bonus time" together. And while this final battle rages, my siblings and I are also enjoying this "bonus time" and learning to be gracious in adversity by his example. We love you, Carl.
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