Tuesday, October 4, 2016

How do you say goodbye to your daddy?

Rewind 13 years
I will let the Florida clouds lift my words to tell the story of this fighter pilot and 30-year veteran's journey from earth to sky.  But why should you care to read this narrative?
I won't be offering any blog post lessons like "Nine Ways to Say Goodbye to a Loved One."

Instead, I want you to know my daddy. His name is Richard Lloyd Raymond.
We call him DADDY BEAR.
As we consider who to elect as our next president, our country needs to remember and appreciate
officers, gentlemen, and heroes like him to emulate.

Richard was born New Hampshire Strong--a breed of a man born in 1927 who carried the ancestral DNA of  Liberty George Raymond, his 3x great uncle. Sadly Liberty's life ended at the Battle of Fort Sumter fighting for the Union's vision during America's Civil War. (See the movie Glory to better understand his sacrifice.)

At 18 daddy saw the Pacific conflict of WWII as a Navy corpsman. Inspired, he became an officer to serve his country as a fighter pilot in the Korean War. Then, with the resilient, loving support of his beautiful bride, Clare Ann, he distinguished himself and rose to the rank of full Colonel in the United States Air Force. He'd later say that the most rewarding work of his career was leading a team to welcome home and transition the largest group of POW's from Vietnam back into freedom.
He accomplished all this and more with an eighth-grade education as the class valedictorian at 14.

Imagine that my daddy served our country and survived three wars until...

October 1, 4:00 am
Daddy called from Florida to ask my permission to die.
His cancer had returned.
There was no parachute plan.
No hope.
This was it after 20 years of remission.

I lived with my daughter on the coast of Honduras. My school year had just started as a Fifth-grade teacher.

My planned life forever changed after his sunrise call.

The exquisitely painful and beautiful dance of life and death washed over me as I made plans to return to Florida.
Photo: Lisa Pender

October 3, Sunset
Mom and siblings Cathy and Michael gathered on this sacred family evening around
my parents' bed where daddy laid in a coma.

We circled to honor a great warrior and laughed through snot-nosed sobs to sing every song imaginable. His breath said, "I know you are here. I am still here." When our family choir stopped, his breath slowly quieted.

Photo: Barbara Samulak Stevens

October 4, Sunrise 
I woke to wonder why daddy hadn't left yet. The Whisper said to open the sliding glass doors--doors that opened to the pool patio to what we call a "bird cage" in Florida.

To my surprise, the doors were already open! Mom announced she was off to the store and would be back in a few minutes. She hoped that he might feel comfortable to now leave.

So I sat beside him and took his hand. Hearing his soft breath, I began intuitively matching it....inhaling...exhaling.
I said in my firm school teacher and first born voice, "You have to go now, daddy. Mom is so tired. We three kids will take care of her."

We matched a few more breaths.
Then...I felt the last breath from the man who heard my first baby breath.
My daddy was now free to soar to new adventures!

Photo: Barbara Knowles

October 15, Afternoon 
While sitting at a stoplight in torrential rain,
I became emotionally overwhelmedI had to pull over to the road's shoulder.
"What is going to happen now? What can you tell me, daddy?"

Blubbering, I looked up and saw double rainbows busting out of the rain clouds. I had never seen double rainbows!

I knew everything was going to be okay. The next day I flew back to Honduras with my daddy in my heart. He was flying high above.

How do you say goodbye to your daddy?
You don't.

Photo: Jennifer Hills

* Special thanks to one of my favorite Facebook pages, the Florida Cloud Appreciation Association


  1. What a moving story, Lore. Words fail me. I cannot express how this made me feel. It's a beautiful tribute you wrote. I always believed that we carry our loved ones in our hearts forever, and that they watch over us from heaven, showing us signs, just like a double rainbow.

  2. Beautiful tribute to your Dad, Lore. Heartfelt and full of love. xxoo

  3. Lore I am moved to tears reading this. Such loving and tender words poured out of you for your 'daddy'. Forever in your heart, forever love this is.
    My heart is full this October, as I read of a girl, now a woman and her dear hero daddy.

    1. Thank you, Edna. I know you understand the loss of someone you love.

  4. Oh what a beautiful post Lore! Thanks for sharing this beautiful tribute to your dad <3

  5. Thank you for your sharing your beautiful heart felt post. xoxo

  6. Dearest Lore, I an so honored to get to know your daddy through your beautiful story. It gave me chills and touched my heart. I lost my dad this year so I can relate and I also saw a double rainbow on the day of his funeral. I told my mom and my sibling on the way home from the cemetery that dad is smiling at us from above, letting us know he is ok. Sending you a big hug.

    1. Appreciating you, Rachel. Interesting that double rainbows showed up for both of us. Before then I didn't even know they existed.

  7. What a beautiful post, Lore. What a handsome man. I feel your love and your pride and it is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this tribute.

  8. How moving Lore! You touched my heart. Thanks for sharing this special tribute to your Dad.

  9. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt vulnerabilities and obvious love of you father.

  10. Beautiful Lore thanks for sharing, such a special moment and to know he is always there with you. I was with my father when he passed, not such a happy place as he was in hospital after a fall and after he passed his pacemaker kept going for a while. thank you xx

    1. You are appreciated, Suzie. Thank you.

  11. What a wonderful story Lore. Your dad was a true hero while in the armed forces and during the last matching breaths you two had together. Thank you sharing these precious moments with us. And I agree with you, we never say goodbye to our daddies.

    1. Thank you, Claudia, for your kind words...nope, we never say goodbye to our daddies.

  12. I did not get the chance to say good-bye to either of my parents. You were so blessed to be able to be there with and for him, and for yourself.

    1. I never thought of this as something to give thanks for, Barab. WOW!

  13. This such a beautiful honor to your father and your relationship. Tears running down my face as I can only hope that saying goodbye to my dad will be as precious.

    1. Ahhh, you have such a tender heart, Deb.

    2. This gave me chills too. My father died a little over 20 years ago of a stroke. My sister and I didn't get to see him much during the last 3 1/2 weeks of his life, because he was in the MICU and we were minors. He was a hard worker and loved his family, and it was VERY HARD on us when he died. It still is hard at times. BUT...God lets him visit me now and then in my dreams. :) Every now and then I have a dream where I see Papa and he's alive and doing stuff with myself and my family. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. Sometimes the dreams don't even feel like dreams! I wish I could have had him longer, but I guess God needed him more, and I'm glad he's in a better place now. Thanks again, Lore! God Bless!