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My dad, Henry

Well, Rosa, it’s another glorious summer day. Late summer, though, with a touch of fall in the air. Mostly, you feel the change by how quiet the woods have become. The thrush have left for winter grounds, the birds that remain don’t sing, they chirp. And the colors, they’ve already begun to slip… the green’s not as lush, the grass has slowed, the light is shorter.

But then, you would’ve known all this, too. Vermont women understand the seasons and what they’re for.

I saw my dad last week, second time this year. Guess Henry’s getting sentimental in his old age. He still lives in Northfield, near your old homestead, still cantankerous and stubborn. Puts up his own wood – at 81, that’s an amazing accomplishment. Cuts down the trees, bucks them up and hauls them home and no one can help. He’ll do it on his own. He’s happier that way.

Dad and Bessie (mom and him aren’t together any more, he took up with Bessie twenty years back. She’s a wonder and a love) – they decided to do Osh Kosh, Wisconsin this year. Drove to Manchester, flew to Chicago, rented a car and drove to the air show. He used to fly there in his own plane but his reactions have slowed too much. Even I would hesitate at that endeavor, pretty neat an 81-year-old man and woman would even try.

God, Henry loved to fly! He brought a basket of old photos last time – photos of all of us kids in our youth, and him, too.  He joined his brothers you know, followed them into the armed services. Of course, he didn’t serve or see action in WWW II like Clarence, Earl, Everett, Roger and Hiram did. He was too young. I remember Grammy telling me she said the Rosary every night and prayed the Stations of the Cross for her boys. When the neighbor said, “Mrs. Ferry, you know you can’t expect them all to come back.” She replied in her curt way, “I can and I do.”

They all came back, battle-scarred, tormented as that generation was. My uncles never would talk about the Great War, just shake their head when you asked.

Henry became a pilot in the Air Force and just look at that man- happy as a clam and proud, too. Sad, that your daughter demanded and he obeyed- he could not remain in the force, Henry would not be a fighter pilot. Grammy wouldn’t see her baby hurt in war. Two of his sons, Rosa, your great-grandsons also joined the Air Force, though they never learned to fly.

You would’ve been proud of Henry. He carved an honest place in this world, stayed true to who he was and stayed loyal to Northfield and its odd ways.

Henry’s still here with me and if you don’t mind, I’ll keep it that way a bit longer.

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