By Barb Hauge
"How strange it seems with so much gone of life and love to still live on."
The death of loved ones is never easy. So many in our age group are leaving us that we could attend funerals most every day but that is too depressing. We attend funerals of close relatives and those in our immediate community. For me even that is a stretch. Because there was no body there was no funeral for my first husband killed in World War II. After that I refused to attend funerals. When the U.S. Department of War decided to eradicate the three Military Cemeteries on Okinawa Island (which contained over 17 thousand bodies each) so they could GIVE Okinawa back to the Japs, they finally shipped Frank's body to Seattle. By then I was in the hospital where I had just given birth to a baby son.
Whether or not it was the remains of Frank's body the U.S. Department of War shipped to a plot of ground in that Seattle cemetery is debatable. In the space of three months of horrendous fighting on Okinawa, where fifty thousand plus Americans were killed, the amassed bodies included over seventy thousand Okinawan civilians and around eighty thousand Japanese. The total killed on Okinawa was over two hundred thousand people. Burial method was to bulldoze trenches, toss in bodies, cover them with dirt and erect white wooden crosses. This could not be done while the fighting was constant so a lot of the bodies piled up. That is why Okinawa smelled like a slaughterhouse and a sewer. Who knew which bodies were under which crosses?
Years later, when my father died, we experienced the first break in my birth family. Dad began having heart attacks in his forties and never did make it to sixty-five and Social Security. His death was most likely "Doctor error" because he had gone in for a check-up the day before. Though Dad had been doing well on his heart pills, the Doc gave him a new sample pill from some Drug Company to try out.
Dad died on our Baird ranch north of Zurch. At one moment he was alive; joking with family and friends; at the next moment that which had given him his quiet strength, his sense of humor, his feeling for and sense of duty to the common man's struggle, was gone. Much of his life had been devoted to serving his interests of his fellow ranchers and farmers and he worked untiringly with committees and boards. Dad believed implicitly in Democracy and had real faith that people, through group effort, could solve their own problems. Even when his voice was the only one speaking out against tremendous odds, he was not afraid to stand and be heard.
Our Dad was known for his honesty and devotion to duty. His principles were firmly established and they were his code of life and he lived them seven days a week. Public figures he most admired were probably Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Will Rogers. He felt that Roosevelt's New Deal was the savior of the American way of life.
I think of my father now, not of his face or form but of his quiet strength, his witty, down-to-earth common sense and his courage to call a spade a spade. Though the tax on mind and spirit and the years of hard work may have shortened his Time, a life like my father's in never lost for he becomes a part of all of us who have known and loved and learned from him.