Tuesday, November 03, 2009

My Father Graham Armstrong (1924-2009): Tribute to and Remembrance of a Fallen Pilot and Poet


My family in November 1994


My father Graham Armstrong passed around 1:15 PM yesterday (Monday, November 2: All Souls Day), in his own home. Most of our immediate family was present, but my dad had been unresponsive all morning (he never opened his eyes yesterday).

Two nurses from hospice (the group that has been so wonderful all along for our family) came by and one of them came out of his room and told us that he had died a few minutes earlier. We had been talking and looking through photos. We knew the end wasn't far away, but it is still a shock when the moment comes.

The day before he was still opening his eyes and smiling at anyone in the room, but could no longer talk. He would look us right in the eye. For a few days he was in what some called a "semi-coma." To me it looked like he had had a minor stroke. My last moments with him (when he was still conscious) two days ago were spent giving him some water on a small sponge, to which he gave a big smile.

The last time (with me) where he could say anything was a day or two earlier, and I was talking about a World War II book that was on his bookshelf and mentioning some poetry by Robert Frost. Those were some of the things that were important to him, so it was an appropriate ending for us, which gives me some personal comfort, to remember. He once wrote a poem (I'll be citing several of his poems as I proceed along) called My Bookshelf, that contained this passage:

I have an odd collection, true;
Some, presents from my children,
Others, from friends; if they're not read,
Then I will have to will them.
Some appreciating person
May treasure what I've given,
And know that these were once my pride,
And Joy, while I was livin'.

Others had similar experiences. I happened to be there, too, yesterday when his Methodist minister came to pray with him (the 23rd Psalm and Romans 10:9-10). He was still aware of his surroundings but couldn't really talk.

He was made as comfortable as he could be, at home, and was surrounded by family for the past several days. His smiles showed us all that he had accepted what was happening. He died at peace. He wasn't gasping for breath or otherwise in any sort of agony (I'm sure many people dread that prospect in cases of lung cancer and other lung diseases).

We're very thankful for those things. We feel that the end came about as well as anyone could expect, given the seriousness of the illness. He wrote a poem once about a sick neighbor (Get Thee Well) that also applies to his final days:

Seemest odd to see thee still
Confined to bed against thy will
But he that sees the sparrow fall
Hast not forgot thee after all.

My wife Judy reported a few days ago when he could still murmur words, that he said to her, "I gotta go. Joe's calling me." This is his brother Joe, an Anglican priest, who was murdered senselessly in 1964, leaving five children; one of them only three or four years old. That was very moving to us. He has also been mentioning "Nettie" (his sister Jean).

I know his brother's murder was extremely traumatic for him. He was 39 when that happened. I don't think he ever got over it. I was also 39 when my only brother Gerry (only 49) died of leukemia in 1998 (and surely I am not nearly over that yet, either). He wrote a poem called Sad Inner Thoughts about his brother, that contained this passage:

Some moments now behind us
Leave an aching in our heart
And we ponder them in silence
Inner thoughts of someone dear

Because a life was taken.
Much too soon did he depart
Through an awful act of violence
Dearer now, the loved ones near.

Perhaps he was reliving his life to some extent. His eye movement when he was sleeping showed that he was dreaming. Who knows all that happens near the end of this earthly life? But it is very spiritual and moving to observe. It seems like the soul is being prepared for the next, much higher phase.

It helps me a great deal to be able to write about it, since I am a writer by trade, and always like to express things that way. One looks for small comforts here and there when these sad events occur. One of the bright spots (if any) of the grieving process (and we have all been through it several times in our family) is the love and thoughtfulness shown by family and friends.

* * *

My father was raised in Essex: a small farm town in southern Ontario, Canada (having been born in Maidstone), with two brothers and three sisters. It is about sixteen miles over the border from Detroit, where he met my mother Lois in the early 40s at a Methodist church event, in the West Vernor-Junction Historic District in southwest Detroit, where I grew up and spent my first 17 years.

Essex delightfully represented the "rural" aspect of my childhood (my other grandparents were in a suburb of Detroit: Allen Park). I used to love traveling there in the 60s, listening to Motown and Beatles songs as we drove; often seeing many of my aunts and uncles and cousins at Christmastime. So many warm memories there . . . He wrote about his childhood in the poem Home Town:

Scenes of your childhood . . .
Churches-schools-the pond -
Wagon-loads of grain
From the farms out beyond.

[ . . . ]

Brickyard-the lumber mill
Fascinating too
Gates lowered slowly
For trains passing through.

The old canning factory . . .
Odors in the air - -
Morning, noon and night
The fire whistle blare.

When my father was a young boy he spent a few summers helping out on a farm. He often recalled with fondness the things he learned there, and wrote a poem about it, too:

Growing and Learning

When I was just a little guy
Working summers on the farm
I earned my keep but little cash;
The work did me no harm.

Some older men from whom I learned
(Not patient with a kid)
Were kinda rough and I caught hell
For little things I did.

Or maybe things I didn't do
Which I thought made no sense;
So often when they barked at me
I'd yell in self defense.

Pride and independence is
A trait I got from Dad
Who had kind words for everyone
But LAZY made him mad.

The town of Essex and our family visits there had a "feel" very similar to The Waltons television series. My dad's dad was a wry, wisecracking, storytelling, red-haired Scotsman: a lot like Will Geer in that show: the folksy, homespun philosopher type, and great lover of poetry himself. My paternal grandmother was very loving and sweet, though a bit taciturn or melancholy (not unlike the grandmother, played by Ellen Corby, in The Waltons). Here is a portion of a letter that my grandfather wrote to my father, after he was promoted to pilot officer. It gives some of the flavor of his delightful personality and their relationship:

Your humble and very obedient, immediate paternal ancestor salutes you and desires to convey to you his heartiest congratulations on your well merited promotion. I never doubted for a moment that you would eventually obtain the desired reward for efficient service rendered. To say that I am proud and happy is putting it very mildly.

Eventually my dad became an American citizen. Virtually all of my relatives are Canadian, since my mother was an only child. I love this Canadian heritage, which has always seemed to me to be a lot more culturally "English" than we feel ourselves to be in America; sort of "classy" and dignified (for lack of better descriptions). My maternal grandfather was from Alabama (I visited his hometown, Scottsboro, last spring), so I have both north (Canada) and south in my background.

My father served in the Royal Canadian Air Force (No. 6 Group) from 1943-1945 (out of East Moor Bomber Base) and flew 25 missions over Germany as a gunner in Wellington and Halifax bombers, eventually becoming an officer. This always meant a great deal to him, and he visited members of his seven-man crew at reunions in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1988 and in Yorkshire, England in 1990. He wrote a poem for the latter reunion:

Long ago and in these Yorkshire hills,
We at East Moor Base prepared for flight;
All hands to the task for freedom's cause
And engines hummed above, both day and night

It grieves us now to think
That not one "Hally" flies,
Where thousands flew above
In these, the Yorkshire skies.

He has expressed his feelings about war that are characteristic of those of many veterans:

Every man and woman who served their country in wartime have their own personal memories and emotions and many with deep scars; some feel guilty for having survived. Every veteran hates to see our young people march off to war. For freedom's sake? We all wonder if it is worth the COST?

He wrote during the war:

In my turret it was cold;
Yeah, I wondered if I'd grow old?
We, I think, will never know
If we hit the target down below.

[ . . . ]

Back we went both night and day;
Yeah! it was scary, I must say.
We were aware that we could die
If they should knock us from the sky.

Many without the luck? we had
Went missing. Some nights it was bad.
Some were prisoners, some to die
Now somewhere over there, they lie

In foreign land, for freedom's cause;
Each year they're honored as we pause.
To lay some wreaths and poppies wear
For all the comrades, over there.

[HalifaxBomber.jpg]
Halifax Bomber

I have immense respect for his military service and always enjoyed talking to him about it. Later in life he became very active in a group called The Yankee Air Force in Ypsilanti, Michigan, that restores old WWII planes and collects memorabilia. It is located near the Willow Run plant that was operated by Ford Motor Company, that manufactured many of the American bombers during the war.

My dad worked at Ford Motor Company himself for 35 years: following the classic Detroit pattern: white collar stuff, not the assembly line, though he did that, too, for a short time. He didn't always enjoy that job (to put it mildly); particularly his bosses, and felt that he was bypassed and unfairly treated, as we see in his poem Underpaid (complete):

I work with many inefficient
I feel my pay is insufficient.
Remuneration, I will state,
with ability . . . not commensurate.

I do what I have always done;
I do my best and make it fun.
Conscientious in my task - -
A little raise . . . not much to ask.

On a humorous note, he would receive a very glitzy Christmas card from his boss, but would take scissors and cut out his boss's name from the card, before putting it up on the wall with the others.

He was laid off in 1958, due to the recession that year. On the very day I was born (if I remember the story right) he obtained a temporary job delivering milk, which was, of course, funny, with a newborn baby at hand. I repeated that history in some respects by losing my delivery job in December 2001 (the company went out of business), just two weeks after my fourth child and only daughter was born. My dad went from a white collar office job to delivery, and I went from delivery to full-time Catholic apologetics and writing in my own home office, that I have been doing ever since.

My dad was an Anglophile and was also interested in our family's Scottish heritage. We attended several Highland Games together (the ones in the Detroit area are said to be the oldest and one of the largest in North America). He loved bagpipes; particularly when they play Amazing Grace. I love them, too, but I like the Irish Uilleann Pipes even better, and consider their sound to be the most beautiful and haunting in the world of music.

He used to do this goofy affectionate imitation of bagpipes, where he would get one of those very long balloons, and let it blow the droning note into a harmonica, while he played Scotland the Brave or some such, complete with a small broom by his waist and a plaid scarf or shirt and appropriate cap. My mother would die a thousand deaths (or pretend to!) when he would do this at family gatherings, but everyone loved it.

He liked to do gardening, work with wood, watch NASCAR racing (one of the few sports he followed; he attended the Indianapolis 500 a few times, too), go to movies, watch history documentaries, and play with his grandchildren (my family provided 80% of those: four of his five). At one point (from 1972 to 1975) he really got into collecting tropical fish, and at the height of that virtual obsession we had as many as fifty tanks going all at once. He wrote about his love of tinkering and making things, too:

Passing of Time

In my shop I've crafted stuff
Toy cars and trucks and things
I think it's time to say, "enough":
Yet it, so much pleasure brings.

A potty chair, a rocking horse,
Some marble games, and yes,
Napkin holders (gifts of course),
Folks loved them I would guess.

He loved family gatherings at holidays and birthdays (including larger family reunions), country music, and going out to restaurants. He adored his grandkids and loved to tell funny little one-liners (usually witticisms and play-on-words, and that certainly influenced me too). He was somewhat active in pro-life and traditional values causes and financially contributed to them.

Through the years he taught Sunday school (he was involved in a Methodist youth group growing up) and was a leader in the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Explorers, and Junior Achievement. I was too lazy to make it to Boy Scouts (too much like school, I thought!) but I was in Cub Scouts for a while, and some of my fondest memories are attending a summer camp and a winter camp with him (I was a little younger, but got to go because he was there). We went to my first concert ever together: seeing Johnny Cash at the Michigan State Fair in 1969.

A real commonality between my father and myself (me being a writer) was his beloved hobby of writing poetry (I have continued that heritage by writing eight Christmas poems). He put together at least three collections of his poems, and they always seemed to be well-received. In these he showed himself to be quite the sentimentalist, "down-home" and thoughtful person. In one of these, Daydreaming, he wrote:

Time frames flickering by me
Remembering scenes of the past
Reliving, and twice the enjoyment
Is mine, but it doesn't last.

[ . . . ]

No one can rob the precious moments
From those who would dream in the day
No one may know of the treasures
My mind has tucked safely away.

Often I thought that he expressed in his poems many things that he virtually never would in person. It seemed that one could get only so close to him. This dynamic reminds me of what is often said about President Reagan: a certain emotional wall that he put up with almost everyone, though he was very congenial and likable, by all reports. My dad seemed to be aware of this, too, as indicated in his poem That Precious You:

But special friends are numbered few
With whom you think aloud
And share that precious inner you
Not meant for all the crowd.

[ . . . ]

A jealous vigil you will keep
Over that precious you
That's buried very, very deep --
Known only to a few.

It may have been the aspect of being a veteran, or that particular generation, or temperament, the English cultural thing, the "guy thing" of not expressing feelings, a sort of self-defense to avoid further hurt, or a combination of all of the above and more. Who knows? But he certainly had a very tender side underneath the crusty, masculine exterior. For example:

An Ideal Combination

Sometimes there is an ideal combination
Of manliness and tenderness;
Power enough to crush extended hand,
Kind eyes, soft voice, a humble soul confess.

Too often are the humble ones too weak,
And the strong no limits find;
Too seldom within that manly frame
In proper balance, humility and strength combine.

[ . . . ]

The best that can be hoped for in this world,
In spite of faults - compatibility;
Someone with whom to share the good and bad,
Someone who understands -- bears with us, patiently.

Tender when the time is right to be,
Strong when strength is needed most;
Understanding at a crucial time when we
Can't understand ourselves -- have given up - almost.

But, be that as it may, his deepest thoughts and feelings are in the poems (which is why I am citing so many of them, to get to the "inner man"), and I suppose I should understand using the written medium as a primary form of expression. I often do so myself, and am doing so right now, writing this, in order to go through part of the grieving process.

The artist, the writer, and the musician (quite often personally very shy) let their creations "speak" their deepest, most heartfelt thoughts. Hence my dad wrote in his poem Reading and Writing:

I've had a knack for writin'
And when ma and I ain't fightin',
I write poetry: that's no crime.

It's kinda like I'm hummin'
And words just keep a comin'
Even if some are not worth a dime.

Everyone has their own way of doing things, and letting out their emotions. If that was his preferred form of expression, then there is nothing wrong with it at all. Writing conveys thoughts just as well as speaking does, if not better, because it is usually more precise and specific and in-depth.

* * *

My dad's brand of religion (since this is a theological blog I'll touch upon this) was intensely personal and private (typical, I think, of both Canadian and English culture). He was a Methodist, which is an offshoot of Anglicanism. I would have loved to talk much more through the years with him about theological and spiritual things, but I am never one to push and press in this area: especially with family. It doesn't work, and can be very counter-productive and conflict-producing. This is especially true of a son or daughter talking to a parent about these matters.

When my late brother Gerry had a conversion experience and became a fervent evangelical long-haired "Jesus Freak" Protestant in 1971 (something that had a profound influence on me, along with my sister Judy's interest in the same general things), he tried to zealously engage in many "evangelistic"-type talks with my dad, but they never went very well at all.

My father would repeatedly say (paraphrasing), "I wasn't taught to talk about these personal religious things." He would become very perturbed about it, and felt "on the spot." He would make caustic remarks about "just let me sign whatever statement you want me to and get off my back."

Since I had observed all of that, I was always very careful not to repeat the same (altogether well-intended) mistake (later admitted by my brother), as I also became an evangelical in 1977, a Protestant apologist, and eventually a Catholic in 1990 and a Catholic apologist. My father wrote a poem called Viewpoint that touches on these issues. It included the verse:

Grant me wisdom Lord to know
Just how far I ought to go
For I could lose a friendship dear
By pounding on unwilling ear

His (in the final analysis, quite biblical) piety is perhaps best summed up in the following two poems:

Do Unto Others

Praises for the hand extended
To a friend in time of need;
Golden Rule by action proven
Is the hope of man indeed.

Praises for the hand that offers
help to one, tho' stranger be;
By this sign a soul has given
Proof of love for all to see

[ . . . ]

Praises for the kind and gentle;
Living proof of word and deed
Of a vow that they have taken
To live by that ancient creed.


Share and be Glad [complete]

Give until your heart is bent;
Don't fret over what you've lent;
Just be glad that you could lend
A hand or dollar to a friend.

Some remember, others won't,
It doesn't matter if they don't.
You will find the joy of living
You will find the joy of giving.

I can testify from my own experience and observations that he manifested these high and noble Christian ideals in very concrete ways. It was vividly apparent in how he and my mother (in their mid-70s at the time) selflessly cared for my dying brother Gerry in their own home for a year; how they have always been extremely generous to my wife and I and even took us in for a year (1987-1988) when my Protestant apologetics campus ministry was in the process of collapsing, partly as a result of several broken promises and disappointments (including from our own church at the time, which was supposedly willing to support our work).

Family situations can bring both the worst and the best out of people, and these are some of the instances of his best and most impressive Christian behavior.

Not a perfect saint (like all of us), he had quite the fiery temper at times, was well aware that this was not ideal, and regretted it, as indicated in his poem Hurtin' Words:

Had we been more cautious in our speech
We would not then so humbly beseech
Forgiveness of our injured fellow men
Who quickly fling the words right back again.

Had we been more thoughtful 'ere we spoke,
Oft times in anger or in joke,
Or in a mood brought on by stress and strain,
We would not have to suffer so much pain.

People have their own walk with God and piety in their own fashion, and heaven knows we all have our faults and besetting sins, and are (every one of us) too often divided, contradictory, even tormented souls (as, frankly, my father was in some ways). His spirituality may not have been as enthusiastic or "intellectual" (in terms of wanting to talk about theology at length) as my own Catholicism, and often quite different in nature and form from my brother's and sister's evangelicalism, as well, but at the same time this didn't mean that spirituality wasn't there (as all of us have thought at one time or another).

I think it clearly was, and that this is seen particularly in his poetry: a sort of "window" to his soul, if you will. The sincerity of what he expressed there cannot be doubted.

He respected my decision to become a Catholic in 1990, and never showed the slightest hint of disapproval. He was proud of my books; often mentioning them to friends and relatives, which meant a lot to me. His brother had been a clergyman and he was a writer himself, so my apologetic and writing career sort of combined both things.

He was even willing to accept the Catholic sacrament of anointing in a recent stay at a hospital. There was a lighthearted moment where my wife Judy and I said, "It doesn't mean you have to become Catholic," and he quickly shook his head in a vigorous "no." We got a kick out of that. This blend of humor and mutual respect is how my family handles the religious differences that we have. We don't fight about it. And I think that is the right way to go about it.

* * *



"Even when the curtain falls: --- THE POET lives"

--- Give Life to Words

I'd like to appropriately conclude my tribute to my father by citing particularly moving, witty, insightful, or spiritual portions of his many poems, and also a few of the warm, touching sentiments and compliments that his relatives have been expressing in e-mails.


Give Me Strength [complete]

Give me strength
To bear the daily gripes
Of things I see
That should be changed
But go on endlessly.

Give me strength
To change what can be changed
And that which can't - - -
Accept - - content
To bear - not rave and rant.


Think "Happy"


When you find yourself alone
And thinking far too much
Turn your thoughts to other folks
With sickness, pain and such.

[ . . . ]

Reserve a corner of your heart
A corner of your mind
For beautiful and pleasant things
To everyone be kind.

The world is hungry for a smile
A pleasant word or two
The hurts and bruises of this life
Have spared but very few.


You're Okay


I believe He looks beyond
Our frame to find the part
That He installed to help us love
And love comes from the heart.


Oh! For Patience


It's so easy to be hasty
Thoughtless in some things we say
Quick to anger - slow forgiving
Yet we know that's not the way.


Dad Looks Back


Please forgive as you look out
Upon the sea of life, in doubt.
Human, yes but try you must
To do your best and in God trust.

God looks down upon a man
A pin point in His master plan;
As he scans from small to great,
Perfection - - not a human trait.


Mother's New Dress

While Mother looks at dresses
Father wanders through the store;
To each clerk he's a target
But he's buying nothing more.

[ . . . ]

This one doesn't seem just right
So she goes back once more
To try on several others
While father walks the floor.

[ . . . ]

This dress was for a dinner
And Mother looked her best
But oh! how father suffered
While she tried on all the rest.


Humor [complete]

Humor is a funny thing
It is a laughing matter.
Try it sometime when you're down.
I'm sure that you'll be gladder.
But, oh! the pressure on your bladder.


Diets [complete]

Diets aren't a lot of fun
Many try but few have won.
You work at it and when you're done
OOPS!
You're on another one.


My Inspiration

To great poets, dead or living,
I give humble thanks;
I don't expect that such as I
Could ever join their ranks.

Much inspiration came from them
When I was very young,
And from a dad who was well versed
And blessed with a silver tongue.


Feeling My Age

As I look back through dozens of years
And think what more I could have done;
I marvel because I've come even this far
As I think of the battles I've won.

Yes there are battles I've lost
And lessons I've had to endure;
We learn from mistakes and try once again
And do better that is for sure.


Heaven [complete]

Heaven is a good thing
For us to keep in mind
As we meet the devil
Who hates to walk behind.

He appears as anger;
Thrives on selfishness;
He will try to rob us
Of good that we possess.

* * *

Your dad Graham was always very special to me . . . I always enjoyed his stories and was very pleased that he later gave me copies of his books of poems. He so enjoyed writing poetry and he fairly glowed when he spoke of them. I managed a short visit a year or so ago with your mom and dad and we very much enjoyed our visit. I also enjoyed hearing about all the grandchildren and what they were doing. Your dad was so proud of them all.
--- brother-in-law (husband of sister)

I have so many fond memories of your dad. When I think of him I think of smiles, fun, and music. And you know that he and my mom [his sister] had a special loving relationship. [She] adored Graham.

--- nephew

Graham was always someone special to me, as he was to so many. He sent me copies of all his published poetry, which I have and cherish. Many great memories will remain, as both he and your mother were special in our lives. Many a night I spent in their residence in Detroit, all exciting and fun.

--- first cousin

Graham was a good man and had a fine sense of humour. I know he will be very much missed.

--- niece-in-law

Uncle Graham always had a special place in our hearts. He was a very good man and our favourite among the Armstrong aunts and uncles.

--- nephew and wife

27 comments:

RichnHim said...

Dave, This is Richard, your rose colored glasses ferret friend. What a grand tribute to your father. My prayers go out to your you and your family as well as for your dad. (I know, I'm not supposed to believe in purgatory...but just in case...I'll pray anyway. :)

God bless my friend. I read you regularly.
Rich

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks so much, Rich. I appreciate your thoughts. Hope all is well with you these days.

john7078 said...

My Father was part of The Greatest Generation too. What a grand soul. They never talked much about the war when I was growing up. But where would we have been without them. Dave, I said the rosary and Divine Mercy on your first post - the presence of God was tremendous. So shall it be again I'll say another right now -Thank you for sharing that was a great tribute! -John

Doug Benscoter said...

My condolences, Dave. I'm very sorry to hear of your loss. It sounds like you have some fond memories of your father. You will all be in my prayers.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Dave,

Thank you for making such a rich, loving tribute to your father so that all of us may partake, in a small way, in the heritage of a genuine and exceptional gentleman.

May God bless you and your family and grant you solace as you continue to write, think, and move on swiftly through time's passage.

May you one day partake of that reunion with family and friends long gone from us and yet gently cradled forever in His bosom.

It is in His Name and for His sake and yours that I lift my heart and voice on your behalf,

Pilgrimsarbour

railrider said...

For your father Graham I pray: May Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.

Maureen said...

He sounds like a great man.

My condolences on your loss, and my prayers for him and for your family.

Mike said...

What a moving tribute, Dave. Losing Dad is a hard thing. I'll pray for him and the family.
Mike Aquilina

Turretinfan said...

I'm sorry to hear of your loss, Dave.

Jordanes said...

God rest your dad's dear soul, and send grace and comfort to you and all of his loved ones. I appreciated your tribute to your dad. It made me think again about my mom -- it'll be two years this month since her death. You're a loving son, one any father would be proud of.

Dave Armstrong said...

Many heartfelt thanks to all of you for your moving condolences. They mean a lot to me and provide some comfort (as did writing the tribute itself).

Martin said...

May Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.

I'll add his name to my rosary.

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks Martin. God bless you. Lots of prayer going up from many sources. It is a great comfort.

Chaka said...

"Oh Father of all,thou hast created Graham,receive him to thyself.To thee be glory in Christ"

Inspiration draw from one of the ancient Christain inscriptions from the Cemetry of priscilla which actually reads:

"Oh Father of all,thou hast created Irene,Zoe,and Marcellus,receive them to thyself.To thee be glory in Christ"

Dave Armstrong said...

Thank you. That's great stuff.

TJ said...

Dave:
My prayers are for you and your Dad and family at this difficult time. That was a beautiful tribute to him. I almost have a sense of knowing him through his poems. You have been greatly blessed to have had him so long in your life.


Russ Rentler

Matheus F. Ticiani said...

I got the sad news only now...will include his soul, and you and your family in my prayers.

Paul Hoffer said...

Your father's poetry is wonderful! It brought to mind something that Kahlil Gibran wrote, "Poets are not merely those who write poetry, but those whose hearts are full of the spirit of life."

I will keep you and yours in my prayers.

God bless!

Dave Armstrong said...

Heartfelt thanks to all three of you too, for the kind words and thoughts, and prayers.

So many people are praying! I hope to benefit from even a portion of this many prayers when I depart this earth. We all need them, and will need them when the time comes, for sure.

The prayers are a great comfort to me, because I am a firm believer in the power of prayer and of the community sense that produces it.

Sophia's Lover said...

Profoundest sorrows for your loss, Dave.

-Pito

CrimsonCatholic said...

Your tribute is beautiful and moving. I will pray for the respose of your father's soul and for God's consolation to your entire family.

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks much to both of you.

Ben M said...

Beautiful tribute, Dave!

Everyone, of course, will be in my prayers.

God bless.

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks, Ben. I so appreciate all the kind thoughts and prayers. My father has been well-served indeed by all the prayer on his behalf. And so has our family . . .

jondall said...

Dear Dave,
I was so sad when i found this tribute, I knew your father and mother when I worked at the Josephine Ford Cancer Center. I would spend alot of time talking with your father about poerty and enjoyed listening to his life experiences. I have in my positions some letters and books that your father had given to me and even though i do cherish them they should be with you and your family.I can see from your tribute just how much Love and respect you had for your father he often spoke of you. my email address is jondall@comcast.net .Please contact me so that your fathers words of Life and the truths of his experiences will remain with you and your family.
God Bless Theresa

Bryan said...

Hi, Dave,
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! I just discovered your post on your Dad's passing, and I extend my condolences to you and your family. I shall remember all of you in my prayers. God bless you and yours throughout 2010.

Sincerely,
Bryan Gesinger

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks, Bryan (esp. for your prayers) and all the best to you and yours in this coming year, too.