Today is March 3, 2018. I remember the date because few are alive today who would remember it as my father’s birthday. It would have been the 93rd birthday for my father. My dad, Carlton C. Feril, died in July of 1982 at 57 years of age. I moved out of his house at 18-19 years old as they left Colorado to return to Michigan for another contract with Vought Aerospace. We never lived closer than 600-1000 miles after that.
I was 29 when my father died, so I’ve been without him far longer than I had him. Much of our relationship was conducted via the telephone, as he could use a toll free line at the plant before 7a for free. Of course that meant it was before 6a my time, but we didn’t mind. Probably, not being face to face drew our relationship closer than it had been, as we were making the transition from child to adult to an adult to adult relationship. My younger brothers were all still at his home, so we discussed their transitioning to adulthood. His picking my brain, and I realize now, trying to keep me connected to them. We discussed family, his mother, my mom’s mother, my mother… as all the men were gone from his family. In reality, over the next seven years of his remaining life, we were in the same location for family events perhaps 45 days. So memories are not as plentiful as I would have desired.
Today I remember him, and I do often. I hit a math equation that I need to work out and I think of asking him about it. I ponder a financial investment and wonder how he might have handled it. Dad was shrewd with money, wanting to make it stretch. My brothers and I saw him as cheap growing up, not recognizing the price he was paying to secure it. Putting men on the moon, defense contracts, missile systems tended to wear out the engineers who ran the slide rules and scratched numbers onto plans with mechanical pencils.
My father was a compassionate man, more compassionate than I. Mom and he took kids into their home who were struggling in their own homes. He was quick to dip into his own groceries to provide for others. On more than one occasion he filled an empty gas tank. Of course, never having had daughters, anything that the daughter in laws, Janet or Sherry wanted, he was always looking for a way to make it happen.
He only knew Steve’s children and my own, but grandkids were a priority as they are for most grandfathers. I’ve often longed for him to have known the other children that came to be a part of our extended family. Somethings were just not to be.
My aunt, his youngest sister and I often speak of him. Our memories help us keep his memory alive. Unfortunately, he has been gone longer than I had him as a part of my life. For most others, it is as though he did not live. Simply fading photos in family albums and nostalgic stories told at family reunions.
To me, and the handful of others who remember him, our lives were made better. So today, he would have been 93, I would enjoy one more conversation. I shall be satisfied with a few important memories.