Saturday, June 19, 2010
HE WAS A GENTLE SPIRIT
My father had a gentle spirit. Does that sound like a trite phrase? In today’s world I don’t think we have enough masculine gentle spirits for the phrase to be trite. Father’s Day, and any day, is a good time for me to remember my own dad and his kind and gentle spirit.
(My grandmother with my Dad, right, and his twin brother, Dan)
He was loving and kind, protective and encouraging, the perfect father to me and my sister. My father, David Collier Shattles, had Parkinson’s disease from the time I was in elementary school until his death in 1986, yet, as long as possible, he continued to work and to play golf. He didn’t complain about the Parkinson’s. I never heard him use it as an excuse for not doing the things he needed to do.
He was never rich, nor famous, yet he was an inspiration to all who knew him. He worked for Eastern Air Lines for over 25 years. The employee passes allowed him to take his golf clubs for impromptu visits to his brother, Joel, in Jacksonville or other family members elsewhere and I was often his traveling buddy. My mother and sister didn’t like to fly, so, despite the passes, we never traveled to exotic beaches or the renowned golf courses. He played on the courses in the Atlanta area, enjoying the pleasures of a sport at which he excelled.
If marriage, fatherhood, golf and his work defined his later life, his early adult years were defined by his service in the Army Air Corps. He was a hero honored with many medals and knew many close brushes with death. He was a part of the crew of the Vagabond King in 1943 as part of the raid on the Ploesti Oil Fields. Later in 1943, stationed in England with the 8th Air Force, the Vagabond King was set for another mission, when my dad developed tonsillitis. It was an ill-fated mission, with my father, the only crew survivor, having been left behind in a base hospital in England to have his tonsils removed. His faith and that of his parents was very strong, and I know that their prayers were constant for the safe return of my father, his four brothers and his brothers-in-law serving our country during World War II.
His was a kind and gentle spirit, full of love for God, family, and country. I have been blessed that the men in my life, my father, my husband, and my son, all been endowed with this spirit of love toward others.