Thank you dad, RIP!
Thank you and good bye dad, please rest in peace!
On January 8th, 2018 dad passed away. He took his last breathe around 11:00am that day.
January 8th was a Monday. I had arrived at work at 7:30am that morning to try and get some special rate calculations done for my job without interruptions, at least that was my hope. At 9:00am I received a call from dad’s hospice nurse, she thought my brother and I should get to dad as soon as possible. The nurse was positive that dad was transitioning and maybe had 48 hours left at the most. That phone call is now the most powerful phone call I have ever received.
My brother and I quickly told our respective bosses what was going on and left work. We arrived at Valley View Rehabilitation around 10:00am. Dad’s breathing was odd, it was almost like he had just completed a marathon and was now having some sort of asthma attack. This was scary as hell! As caregivers, my brother and I knew that dad was about ready to die but as his kids we were frighten beyond belief. Both my brother and I tired to get dads attention when we got there but he was “gone” despite his eyes being open. Dad was dead, his body was just to stubborn to rest at that point.
Dad’s final breathe looked almost like a heart attack scene from a movie or tv show. His facial muscles contracted and he looked like he was in tremendous amount of pain. This happened about 3 or 4 times then it just stopped. He was gone!
For those of you that don’t know, dad was a retired 1-Star General with the Idaho Air National Guard. He originally joined the Guard as an enlisted solider then received an opportunity to go to pilot school about 2 years after joining. He had no intention of making a career out of being a soldier until the pilot school opportunity come. Apparently dad held the record for the highest IQ score for a pilot, something I did not know until after he was gone. Dad spent time in Norway (which he might have buzzed a Soviet aircraft carrier according to stories my brother and I heard at his funeral service), led multiple deployments to the Middle East for various operations, and won multiple awards for which we never old enough until now to appreciate. Turns out dad was an accomplished bad ass, to us though he was just dad.
That isn’t entirely true I guess, now that I think about it. Growing up I knew dad was a higher up. I can remember getting an licensed plate for his old tan Honda Accord (later it would become my first car) that read ANG 3. This meant that dad was the 3rd highest ranking Air Guard officer at that time. I can also remember going to the change of command ceremony when dad became group commander. That was awesome! When dad got his star we got to go to then Governor Phil Batt’s private office so the Governor could pin the star on dad’s shoulder. Governor Batt was very short, like 5’8” maybe and dad was 6’3”. Poor Governor Batt almost had to stand on a ladder in order to pin the star onto dads shoulder, we are a tall family! Now that I think about it, I can remember walking around the flight line with dad during an airshow at Gowen Field and watching almost every other soldier stop what they were doing and salute dad as we walked by which was pretty cool, I’m not going to lie!
As you can imagine, growing up with such a successful and powerful soldier was tough at times. For example, dad yelled at my brother when we were like 6 or 7 for spilling something at my Aunt and Uncle’s house which is absolutely amazing. The spill was unfortunate but well within the range for a young kid to make. Dad let loose on my poor brother to the point that his outburst is still talked about today some 30 some years later. Despite being taller and outweighing my dad by a significant amount, I’m still positive dad could kick my ass even on that horrible January 8th morning. Dad scared the yell out of me when he got mad or felt I needed one of his famous “come to Jesus” party’s. I now realize it’s because of these moments that my brother and I are the men we are today.
Dad was tough, he felt that if he could accomplish something anyone could. He would never accept that he had a special gift which made high pressure and high responsibility jobs just a little bit easier for him which is why he was so successful. According to dad, all you needed was the ability to take a little risk and work your ass off then anything was possible. He could not accept my C in Biology was not because I don’t understand hard science, it was because I was not taking the responsibility of working hard seriously enough. That said, I think dad was incredibly proud that I continued to ski despite the fact that I fell of a cliff rock climbing and have rheumatoid arthritis.
As we start the hard process of going through dad’s belongings something is becoming more and more obvious. Dad was incredibly proud of his accomplishments but felt absolutely no need to brag about them. He never wanted his friends to refer to him as General Brewington, to him he was just Brew. To this day, I believe dad was more annoyed that he had to go to Governor Batt’s office to be awarded his star, dad would much rather stayed at his office getting his inbox completed then hit the officer’s club for a celebratory drink before going to the Stagecoach for a nice steak with my brother and I. I’m also positive dad would have gladly turned in his star for the opportunity to continue to fly, his flying career included time in the F-102, RF4-Phantom, F-4 Wild Weasel , an the A-10 Warthog.
Last Sunday, I was invited to lunch by the Kinney’s who are a long time friend and political science professors at Boise State for which I have my degree in. During the course of our conversation it came up that I have earned 2 Director awards during my 7 years as a state employee. Of course I didn’t use the word earn, I used the word won for which I was immediately corrected. I was then asked to write up a little something about this accomplishment for the Political Science newsletter. Instead of being proud of this ask, I was actually embarrassed. For me, I had not earned anything, I had just done my job. I’m definitely my fathers kid. Work is work, what counted in life was my other accomplishments I’ve been taught.
It is in that spirit that I want to close this by listing my accomplishments, not as a form of bragging, but simply as I remember to myself as to what I’ve done with my life. We all have things we should be proud of and deserve recognition for, even if the recognition only comes from our own ego. So here it goes.
First, I have earned two degrees. My first degree is in Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations. I had a lot of fun and meet some truly amazing people during this time. Although I probably could have spent a little less time skiing and more time studying for this degree, I’m still proud I have it! My second degree is in Accounting. I earned this degree after my rock climbing fall. Despite enjoying my Political Science degree work more, I was able to earn a higher GPA with Accounting despite having 4 surgeries in 2 states during this time period.
I have a house which is newer than both of my parents which I pay less than my last rent payment for. It is a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath house which is just under 2,000 square feet. I bought this house through a HUD auction for less than the asking price. When I signed the paperwork for my house I already had $2,000.00 of equity before even making my first mortgage payment. Even if zillow.com is off by $50,000, my house has essentially doubled in value since I bought it 4 years ago. Not bad piece of investing.
My current position with the state was a huge promotion for me. I went from a Technical Records Specialist 1 to a Senior Financial Specialist over night. The only reason I was even considered for this position was because I took a risk on myself. I was positive my resume was not what they were looking for, so instead of accepting defeat right off the bat, I sold myself instead for the position. Although I ended up being their second choice, I got lucky when their first choice wanted to much money. Better lucky than good right? :)
As a so called patient advocate or e-patient, I have received multiple honors for my work in this field. My most significant honor would have to be the multiple collaborations I’ve done with fellow e-patients. Yes, being appointed to the E-Patient Advisory Board for Stanford University’s Medicine X (MedX) Conference was mind blowing awesome, don’t get me wrong, however nothing can beat the pure power and emotion of working with other patients. Advocacy should alway be about patients, it is that simple.
Most importantly, I am not done trying to make you proud dad. You were only 76 when your body decided to give up, much to young. I’m only 43. I was hoping you would be able to see me get married, sell my first house for a profit, watch my blog grow from a handful of regular readers to a larger market, maybe help me set up a photography business for when my health prevents me from working full-time anymore, help me raise my first dog, and watch me climb higher in my career than your 1-star General accomplishment. Basically dad, I was not done using the resources and skills you passed down to me in your own special way!
For the last several years, I think dad wanted to go back to being “dad” more despite both of his kids being adults in their late 30s and early 40s. Dad was proud every time he was able to take me to one of my various spinal epidurals or being there after I got out of surgery. He wanted to pay for my medical treatment because that is what dads are suppose to do. As I recall, dad once slapped my hand as I was grabbing a check for dinner, dad had just spent the previous month mowing my yard as I was recovering from yet another procedure so I thought it was only fair that I bought dinner, as usual that is what I got for thinking again :)
It is in the spirit of dad that I ask whoever is reading this to please take a moment and write down everything you have accomplished. Leave me a comment if you would like to share! If its becoming doctor that is cool, if its walking to the door and back today that is just as cool! Not everyone can become a bad ass 1-Star General, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t earned the right to have just as big as ego as he had for our accomplishments.
Thank you for everything dad, and please rest in peace!