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GSBN:Thoughts on Fathers Day (off topic)



Dear Friends and Colleagues,

This is a totally personal email..... no reply is necessary.

My father Ralph died about three weeks ago after a lengthy decline (diagnosed as muscular dystrophy), so his passing was expected, and he was ready to go. It was really a blessing for him, and my mother Betty, who was his primary caregiver. The last seven months, my sister Sherry had also been on hand, helping with his daily needs, which included.... everything. I think he clung to life, although it was much impaired, from the survival instinct he developed as a G.I. in WWII. Finally he let go.

I don't think of him at peace, I think of him as free, now. His soul has shed the body that had slowly imprisoned it, and in an instant expanded into another level of consciousness. It must be an incredible relief. Certainly it is a natural transition and one we will all make -- but it is a transition into the unknown. Confronting it can be scary for those of us still in this physical reality; there is comfort in faith of a deity or a benign universal consciousness. And perhaps we all share the inner hope that when it is our time, we face the moment gracefully.

Some of you will have met my mother, but not my father, who was a lawyer and a well-respected municipal judge of Las Cruces, NM for 20 years. We know because he kept getting re-elected, and I frequently meet people who speak highly of him and his wisdom in dispensing justice in the community. If you are curious to know a bit more about Ralph, I include a couple short obituaries below, plus a poem my sister Connie wrote. My mother Betty will probably spend winters in Tucson and summers here in Kingston at her strawbale house (which Pete and I are looking forward to), when she is not traveling.

On a late-afternoon walk last week I heard an unusual bird call. An owl on the hill. Not the (endangered) Mexican spotted.. they sound more tentative, hopeful. This owl had a deep voice, it sounded like they are supposed to -- you know, wise. It was loud and got my attention, and somehow it made me think of my father, coming back with wings to fly. The call? It sounded like, "Free now, free now."

I hope this note stimulates you to take a few minutes to appreciate not only your father, but your own life today (and every day). And if you are interested in exploring the mystery of reality a little, I recommend a recent movie -- What the Bleep Do We Know? -- and a book -- The Message from Water lll, by Masaru Emoto. They are guaranteed to astound you.

Blessings to you all,
Catherine

 Obituary from the Las Cruces Sun News

Ralph D. Wanek, a practicing attorney and municipal judge of Las Cruces, NM for 20 years, died May 24 in Tucson, AZ at the age of 83. He was born in 1921 in Menominee, MI, the ninth and last child of Charles and Jenny Wanek. A 1951 graduate of the University of Wisconsin School of Law, he practiced as an attorney in Green Bay, before moving with his family to New Mexico in 1964. Ralph was married to Betty Wanek for 55 years. He was the father of Sherry (Denver), Connie (Duluth, MN), Catherine (Kingston, NM), Richard (Albuquerque), Charles (Boulder), and John (Denver), grandfather of Martina Litasi, Hannah and Casey Wanek Dentinger, Meg Wanek, and Emma Stark, all of whom survive him.

He served his country during the second World War in the Pacific theater, and his ashes will be buried among his fellow soldiers in the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Cave Creek, according to his wishes, on June 8. Family and friends will gather in Denver in August to honor him. He was a man of integrity and great compassion, a thoughtful man, and he had an independent soul and a sharp wit. Many were his friends at the Las Cruces tennis courts, where he played regularly for decades. He enjoyed and followed all sports. He was well loved and will be much missed.

Contributions in his memory may be made to the Muscular Dystrophy Association and to National Public Radio.


From The Menominee (MI) Herald Leader:

Ralph D. Wanek, municipal judge of Las Cruces, NM, for 20 years, died May 24 in Tucson, AZ at the age of 83. He was born in 1921 in Menominee, MI, the ninth and last child of Charles Wanek and Jenny (Mary) Bottkol Wanek. He was the nephew of Emma Wanek Husemeier, a long time employee of the Menominee Herald Leader, and as a boy he delivered Herald Leader newspapers. His grandfather founded the Wanek Harness Shop, and his father carried on the trade until automobiles replaced horses and business waned.

A 1951 graduate of the University of Wisconsin School of Law, he practiced as an attorney in Green Bay before moving with his family to New Mexico in 1964. He served his country during the second World War in the Pacific theater, and his ashes will be buried among his fellow soldiers in the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Cave Creek, according to his wishes, on June 8. Family and friends will gather in Denver in August to honor him. He was a man of integrity and great compassion, a thoughtful man, and he had an independent soul and a sharp wit. Many were his friends at the Las Cruces tennis courts, where he played regularly for decades. He enjoyed and followed all sports. He was well loved and will be much missed. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Muscular Dystrophy Association and to National Public Radio.


My poet sister Connie lives far away, in Duluth, Minnesota, and couldn't visit our parents in Tucson as often as she would have liked. She emailed this to my mom a few days after my dad transitioned.

The Death of My Father

 He died at different times in different places.
 In Wales he died tomorrow,
 which doesn't mean his death was preventable.
 It had been coming a long time
 across the ocean, the desert, pausing often,
 moving like water or like wind, or like time,
 here turned aside by a stone,
 then hurried where the way was clear.

 Once I lay on my back in the grass and watched
 as cloud after cloud moved east
 and just disintegrated.  The mystery now
 is not where they went, but how
 I could ever have been so idle.

 Funerals are all the same.
 I saw him cry at his mother's wake
 when I as young enough to be
 picked up, lofted right into someone's arms.
 He, a man, cried that day,
 but people smiled, too.  You think now
 you want to be remembered,
 but the dead don't care.
 My grandmother's face said that.

 Indifference is a relief, after a lifetime
 of mothering one's many worries,
 trying not to play favorites.

 I wasn't there when he died.
 I feel that keenly, that I should have had a share.
I was spared unfairly.  I was not fed
 the bitter broth and the hard bread.
 I missed everything no one wanted.
All day I was chained to nothing.
What time did it happen exactly?
 What exactly was I doing then?
 What can I do now?


 Take care of yourself, Mom.
 Love,
 Connie




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