My Dad

“Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”

I’ve been agonizing how to say goodbye to the person who was always there when we faltered, and who always provided us with the port in the storm.

He gave us a wonderful life. He gave us a wonderful family, my mom Shirley, his wife of almost 56 years, my sister Cindy, brother James, and of course his beloved grandkids, Kristine, Eric, Grace and Jeffery Robert.

How do you say goodbye to a man who left a long trail of memories that span over more than 81 years.

Robert Harold Chantler was born in Oneonta, New York August 29, 1926 to Harold and Bessie Chantler. His sister Gladys was 10 years older so although she often served as a surrogate Mom, they enjoyed a very close loving relationship. He grew up during the depression in Sidney, NY and at the age of 17 he convinced his mother to give her permission for her only son to join the US Navy during WWII, where he served on the USS Heywood L. Edwards, DD663

My sister loved this photo and as a little girl would always ask to see the picture of Dad with the “bar of soap” on his head.

When he returned after serving for 19 months in the Pacific, he finished High School and went on to Ithaca College on the GI Bill. This is where he met and married my Mom.

As kids we spent every holiday and most Sunday afternoons, with the Chantler clan and there was always lots of good food, lots of card playing and lots and lots of laughter and always lots of love.

Dad lived and loved with great passion mixed with lots of humor.

I don’t think I can ever remember a time where Dad couldn’t find humor in any situation, and often it was irreverent, which may explain how Dad saw life, with optimism and humor. There were few things in life that Dad didn’t love including mischief and mayhem. He was the first one you would suspect if you became the victim of one of his practical jokes. He was never malicious, and it was always in good fun. If you ever managed to pull one off on him, which was rare, he always laughed the hardest and loudest. All while planning his next move.

How do you say goodbye to one of the strongest people I’ve ever known, I only remember seeing him cry once and that was when my brother James became very ill as a newborn, of course at the time I thought it was because I had broken the buckle on my new shoes. But Dad was there day and night, sometimes he seemed to be every where at once, like when my sister was born and she and my mom were in one hospital, and I just happened to be sick with pneumonia in another hospital. Poor Dad spent at least a week, just running back and forth from hospital to hospital with little or no sleep.
How to say goodbye to the Dad who taught me everything I ever needed to know. I remember one day when I was around 8 or 9 I ran home crying because one of the neighborhood kids had pushed me off a swing. He looked me in the eye, showed me how to make a proper fist, and sent me off to ‘take the swing back’. I did.

Dad had many careers in his life, and because of this we moved a lot. Like gypsies, Dad would move to a new job, and Mom would be the one to pack us up and drive to the new location with three kids and a dog in tow. Because we moved so much, I always assumed that it was those experiences that taught us how to make friends fast. But I see now that it wasn’t the moves, it was probably a gene we got from Dad.

Although he had many jobs that took him all over the world, I think his most exciting one when he became the Program Manager for the Apollo Lunar Landing Module (LEM) simulator. That simulator became crucial in helping to get the men of Apollo 13 back safe and sound.
I am so honored that I was able share with my sister and mom, Dad’s final journey, to be there and to be able to hear him say I love you sweetie just one more time.

But like Winston Churchill I know he was prepared to meet his Maker, but I am not so sure his Maker is ready to meet him.

As I started trying to pull this together I came upon this obscure line from Hamlet

“He was a man, Take him for his all, I shall not look upon his like again.”

I love you too Dad.

If you feel so inclined please send a donation to the Fisher House Foundation, Inc.

 

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16 responses to “My Dad

  1. Please accept mine and Mary’s deepest condolonces on the loss of your father. We ran into Brian at NHSW and knew that the end was near. I am glad that you got the chance to say good bye. Hugs. Debbi

  2. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    I currently live in Norwich, and Oneonta and Sidney are just over the hill. I was suprised to see them in your lovely tribute to your Dad. Small world…

  3. What a lovely tribute. I am so terribly, terribly sorry for your loss.

  4. A great tribute. Thanks for sharing his legacy. He will definitely live forever through his children. Sorry for your loss.

  5. I am so sorry for his passing, Lynne. He sounds like an incredible man and I am sure that he is a huge part of why you are the strong and wise woman we all know and love.

  6. Your father sounds like a wonderful, kind, caring man. Thank you so much for sharing him with us.

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  7. I am so deeply and profoundly sorry for the loss of your Father, who was obviously a kind and good man.

  8. Oh, Lynne, I’m so sorry. What a great tribute you’ve written.

  9. I’m so sorry for your loss, your touching tribute makes it clear that you were fortunate to have such a person in your life and that you knew it. I hope these memories comfort you in the days and weeks ahead.

  10. What a beautiful tribute to your dad, Lynne. I knew he’d had lots of adventures, but until I found a profile of him on Google, I had no idea of how many!

    I hope that your mom, Cindy, Jim, you and the grandkids are finding comfort in all of the great memories you have of him and your family. I’ll be there Saturday to give you a real hug but this one will have to do for now {{{{BIG HUG}}}}. Love you…Nancy

  11. Lynne, I’m so sorry. This is a wonderful tribute -thank you for sharing your memories.

  12. Lynne, what a wonderful, beautiful tribute. I feel as if I knew your father. It’s fantastic that you have such wonderful memories of him and your family!

    With all my heart, I’m sorry for your loss. I am sending huge hugs to you, Grace and Cindy and the rest of your family.

  13. Kathy E in Fredericton

    Saying goodbye to my dad was also hard to do – I still miss him, many years later.

    Your dad was obviously a great man and he will be missed.

    Love & comfort to you & your family at this difficult time.

    Kathy

  14. What a wonderful tribute and how lucky you were to have such a great Dad in your life!

    A life well lived , yet a such profound loss to you all.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    Many hugs,

    Manise

  15. I know this is late (catching up on blogs), but I’m so sorry. Your family is in my prayers.

  16. oh, Lynne, I’m so sorry. Hugs,
    Liz

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