Last week I lost my Father in Law to a two year battle from a very aggressive form of cancer. It was a sad ending to a rock of a man whom was more than family, he was my friend.
There are times in one’s life when reflection reveals just how much those that came before us meant. What they instilled, and who you are because of them. I have often found myself day dreaming of my own Father at time’s like that, but now my mind also turns to Don Bailey a true wing man if there ever was one.
Don and I had more than any Son in Law could hope for, and deserve. He was a great friend, a great mentor, and a great Irishman. He and I had a relationship that would be the envy of all other in law encounters and when I needed him he was always there. We spend many a night howling at the moon as Don’s spirit was always young. You know the old saying when you’re looking out from your own eyes without a mirror, well you’re only as old as you feel. Don always felt young, and had a way with those many years his junior. He related to them in a way that made them feel comfortable and he always smiled. That smile a trademark will be missed and I will wish for the day I see it again.
Don grew up loving sports, a true athlete. His favorites, basketball, football, and of all things, cross country. He still holds records at his Jr. College, but why he liked to run is still a mystery. Even his twin brother could never understand. Yes Donnie was a twin, Donnie and Ronnie and they stayed by one another’s side always as one. The measure of a man is in his wake, that’s my thought and Don’s Wake was high, and deep as he touched so many. I said as I spoke broken hearted at his life celebration, (that’s what they call a funeral these days) that God bestowed us with the likes of Don. He only made so many to go around. They’re borrowed to make this world a better, happier place to tolerate. But when they’re work is done he plucks them as they’re needed elsewhere. Reconditioned and sent out again. At least I hope this is true because anyone who gets to know him will forever be grateful, not to mention a happier, better person. You cannot die if you’re remembered, and it goes without saying that Don will be remembered.
I’ll be up soon Don and when I get there let’s continue the ride for I still have much to learn.
Your grateful son,
A poem I wrote for the man:
By Greg Linn
A hard rain struck an Oak today during a mist of fog. But that’s O.K,
The mighty Oak fought hard to survive, upon this land, to stay alive.
The dense old Oak battled with pride, never giving in, his mate by his side,
He clung to the Earth, roots holding tight, he would not fail in the battle for life.
Ragging Waters brought down an Oak today, during a flood. But that’s O.K,
Born from a seed split in two, but always connected, more one was the rule.
Twins together side by side, and so it was, blood as thick as hide,
But Brother can’t fight a hidden foe, dark demons came calling, one brother would go.
Wind took down an Oak today, during a hurricane. But that’s O.K,
Legacy’s are funny you see, one man’s triumph another’s decree.
Judgments are for those that remain, and no two will be the same,
But not one will be false you see, for this large Oak will always be.
Snow buried an Oak today, during a blizzard. But that’s O.K,
Not many can carry themselves like good old folk, unless you knew this live Oak.
Your Word is your promise, Your Word is your bond, Your Life is your pledge until you are gone,
Honor, integrity, words he used, but this Oak lived them; ask a favor, he never refused.
Lighting hit an Oak today, during a storm. But that’s O.K,
How is a life ultimately measured, in the accumulation of wealth, or untold treasure?
Is it by the friends too many to count, from far away and round about?
Is it by our family, whom weep you’re gone, or who they become because of an Oak named Don.
Hail hit this Oak today, bruising and battered. But that’s O.K,
Extraordinary Father, and Grandfather too, living through tragedy too hard for all you.
The pain so extreme buried within, only known to his mate and of course to him,
So he went on living asking so little of life, just a visit from his daughter a kiss from his wife.
A fire burned down this Oak today, a fire we lit. But that’s O.K,
Now this battle has come to an end, but this victory is hollow, for a note we send.
You have not won, the Oak will rally, in our minds with thoughts we tally,
In the hearts of survivors, in memories of those he touched,
Now he’s with his Father and Beloved Son, Yes Grandpa, Dad and Little Bun.
The Old Oak is gone today, he’s now in Heaven. But that’s O.K,
He’s no longer in pain, just far away!