A Tribute to C. L. Blue (1916-2009)

One year ago, on Thursday, March 26, 2009 my father, Charles Leroy Blue, died at the age of 93.  My wife, Sue, and I had gotten word he had had a stroke and somehow knew we needed to get out to California as soon as possible. In the space of 4 hours, we had dropped everything, purchased tickets, packed and headed for the airport to be with him. Yet, Dad had his own way of doing things and he was ready to move on–it was his time and his choice and there was no waiting around. We received the news Dad had died just before boarding our flight at Midway Airport.

Dad loved airplanes and loved to travel. How fitting that we would be in an airport when we learned of his death. When I was a kid, he and I would spend hours at the local airport listening to scanners monitoring the communication of the air traffic controllers. He spent a lot of his working life on airplanes and in and out of airports. After retirement, one of his greatest joys was planning and going on vacations.  I remember him telling me he and mom had taken over 60 trips following his retirement.

Dad loved to work hard and treasured the tools he owned.  I often thought he had a relationship with his tools, especially when I made the mistake of not properly taking care of one of his “friends.”  I learned from Dad to love hard work and to respect the tools I worked with. I learned how to set goals and strive toward accomplishing them.

Dad loved numbers.  There was a time when he could remember every place he had ever lived, including their addresses and phone numbers.  Any time Dad was a passenger in a car with you he would lean over and try and read the odometer. He was always curious about how many miles I had on the car and how many miles I would be driving to my next destination.

Dad loved routines.  Everything he did was a system—he had the same way of doing things every time.  One of his mottos was, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” I remember his morning routine: getting up at the same time, showering, making coffee, getting the newspaper, having the same breakfast every morning while reading his paper. He liked the same handful of restaurants and always requested the same table.

Dad loved discipline and determination.  Once he set his mind to something, there was no stopping him.  Whatever he did, he did it with willpower and resolve.  He smoked for 30 years and quit the day he finally became convinced smoking led to lung cancer. He drank alcohol until he was 86 and stopped cold-turkey when the neurologist told him he had no brain cells left to lose.

Dad loved the fire department.  When my brother, Bob, was 10 he was hit by a car and the quick thinking of the fireman who responded to the accident saved his life. As an expression of his gratitude, Dad served on the Fire Department Board of Directors for over 25 years, most of those years serving as the chairman.  They named the board room in his honor. How fitting that fireman from the Orinda Fire Department responded to my mom’s 911 call, cared for my father and transported him on his final trip to the hospital.

Most of all, my Dad loved my mom—it was not a perfect example of healthy dependence but it was a testament to his dedication and commitment to loving her to the best of his ability. The last conversation I had with my father, he once again said that Mollie (my mom) was the best thing that ever happened to him. He had a hard time living with her but there was no doubt he would not have wanted to live without her.

My Dad was a sensible man who lived faithful to his values. He was true to his vision and did what he set out to do. He could be rigid, stubborn, impatient and childish, often losing his temper when he did not get his way. At the same time, he cared deeply for all of us, dedicating his life to demonstrating his love by doing everything he could to provide for and protect us.

The last 20 years of my Dad’s life, he and I forged a respectful and loving relationship.  I am so thankful for the work we do at CLE to get clear and current
with our parents.  I am a testament to the value of expressing my hurts and resentments to my father and building a transformed adult relationship with him. I am so grateful that I am able to grieve his death and celebrate our love for each other.

The movie, Legends of the Fall, ends with Tristan as on old man fighting the grizzly bear which has a missing claw. As One Stab says, ‘It was a good death.”

“Dad, you lived a good life and died a good death.”

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Published: 26.03.2009 / 08:08 PM

Category: Relationships

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