“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ~ Dr. Seuss
So many things can be summed up in the life of a man, but what impact he has on everyone around him, what legacy he leaves behind, that is what will be remembered. There is always an end, the finish of a good book, the end of a fantastic movie, the end of a beautiful song, the final move in a chess game. We tend to not be very fond of endings. But they are inevitable.
In the case of the life and death of my father, Joseph C. Coe, I choose to smile because it happened. Without his life, without the events that led up to my mother meeting him at Eli Lilly’s in Lafayette, IN back in the early 1970’s, my life would not have gone the path that it did. Each of us plays a part in what happens to those we cross paths with. We may not realize to what extent we help shape and mold the futures of others, but nevertheless, we do.
When my Mom first starting seeing Joe (Dad), I was apprehensive. I didn’t want to share my Mom with anyone. It was just Mary and I, and Mom and it was safe. I didn’t think we needed anyone else, but as a child I had no idea how much my Mom needed to meet someone who would love her, provide for her and help her to raise her two youngest daughters. Little did I know that Joseph Coe would be the man who I would come to know as my Dad.
He was a soft-hearted man, gentle, kind, and he would cry at sad movies or emotional songs. He read heart warming stories and loved to share new things he would learn. Because of him I love cats, watching the weather, precise time, swiss cheese, horseradish mustard, books, standard shift vehicles, chess, and always being willing to try something first before I decide whether I like it or not. Although, he could never convince me to try his smelt or anchovies. 😉 We both loved sweets, unfortunately, sweets didn’t like him very well, or me for that matter, and we loved beer.
He encouraged me to pursue my dreams, to break out of my comfort zone, to join the Navy and see the world while I was young. I watched him make knives, leather sheaths, and take care of his many clocks and watches. He instilled in me the value of history, and appreciating the wisdom of others and to learn from their journeys.
He was fascinated with new technology and couldn’t get over how we could research so much information over the Internet from a device that fit into the palm of our hands. He would say, “Well I’ll be,” and I would say, “it’s amazing isn’t it.” He would say when we would leave to return home, “goodbye now, love ya, travel safe.” Then he would sit and watch and wave as we pulled away. I will miss that when I go home to visit.
He took the time to teach me all of the little things in life that often go unnoticed, like scraping the sides of the peanut butter jar to be sure you didn’t miss any, how important it was to always have your pocket knife handy when eating because you always need a pocket knife, and to use scissors to cut the top of the cereal bag or the saltine crackers. A neat cut is important. He taught me to mean what you say, and say what you mean and to be a person of integrity, and to be punctual when we say we are going to be somewhere.
As I sit and wander down memory lane, the memories are rushing in like a flood, and yet I can’t put everything into words. So as his favorite radio commentator Paul Harvey used to say, “and now you know, the rest of the story ~ good day!”
I will cherish my memories as long as my mind is allowed to retain them, and I will be thankful to the man, Joseph Carroll Coe, who stepped in and became a dad to me. All of my love and gratitude is in honor of him today, the day he was laid to rest in Lafayette, IN. So long Dad, all of my love,