My father, Harry Frazee Jr., passed away last month at the age of ninety-five. He and my mom were married for sixty-eight years and he loved her dearly. They were great parents to us, and I miss them both a lot.
As I wrote my father's eulogy, I thought I would put his long life in context. As I continued my preparation, it's as though all the puzzle pieces finally came together about my dad and why he was the way he was.
He was born in Kansas in 1920, the same year radio was invented. A hard worker, loyal and giving, he would have taken a bullet for any one of us. He was loved and loving, but he could be hard on us too, and that was sometimes tough to take, as I imagine the teenage me was as well.
Nothing makes you appreciate your parents like losing them does, or raising your own children.
My father was born two years after the end of World War I. His dad was an officer in the Army, wounded in battle in France and received the Purple Heart. When my grandfather came home, he married, raised a family, became an attorney and eventually a federal judge.
My dad was the oldest of three. He was nine when the depression hit, and then the Midwest was run over by the dust bowl, lasting five long years. His parents' marriage was rocky and unfortunately ended in divorce. My dad became the young head of his family. He was twenty-one, when Pearl Harbor was bombed and he enlisted in the Navy.
It was only after my dad's passing that it dawned on me that his entire youth and young adulthood were bracketed by two world wars, the depression, the dust bowl and his parents' divorce. And I asked myself, "How would I have turned out if I had lived his life?"
At last, I felt I really understood why my dad acted the way he did. And I feel compassion and appreciation for the many sacrifices he made for our family and for me.
I love you, Dad, and thank you too.