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Column: Give the flowers while they are still alive

By Harold Keller / L’Observateur / April 29, 1998

It was about 8:30 a.m., the morning of April 26, 1955. I was aboard theUSS Saufley, which was docked in Key West, Fla.

Two Red Cross representatives board the ship and I heard the call for H.M.Keller to report to the quarterdeck. Just three weeks prior to this, I hadbeen home on a 20-day leave. The men from the Red Cross were veryprofessional and, with compassion, gave me the news of my father’s death.

My first reaction was one of disbelief. “It can’t be!” I said. “I was justhome a few weeks ago and my dad was healthy!” I was told that my dad had a heart attack at about 2 that morning.

My dad was only 48 at the time of his death. This was 43 years ago. Howtime flies.

This past Sunday (the anniversary of his death) as I was in church I thought back to how good a father my dad was. He organized all the gamesfor the kids in the neighborhood. He always pitched for both sides inbaseball and he had basketball goals on a vacant lot that was used by all the kids in the area. He would not only take us to the pool, but he came inand swam with us.

He was a good father and also a good husband. He loved my mother and heshowed it. He was a good provider. He protected me and always took me tochurch. I can still see him kneeling by the end of his bed every night,praying.

My father was such a role model, and there was never any doubt how much he loved me. Because of the love and compassion of my earthly father, it’seasy for me to accept, by faith, the unconditional love of my Heavenly Father.

The reason so many young people today don’t serve God is because they find it hard to trust a Heavenly Father, whom they haven’t seen, when their earthly father has disappointed them so much.

The older I get, the more I realize how my dad was the biggest influence in my life.

A few years ago, my brother, Mark, gave me a letter I had written to my dad for Father’s Day, dated June 16, 1953. Of all the letters I wrote duringthe four years I was in the Navy, the following is the only one my dad kept:

“Dear Dad, Well, Sunday is Father’s Day. I want to tell you I love and admire you. I’mnot sending a card because I couldn’t find a card that would tell you how much you mean to me.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciated all you did for me. As far as I canremember, you always gave me anything I wanted just to make me happy.

Sometimes you deprived yourself and mama of something you really needed.

You know when I used to go to school, everybody used to say you gave me anything I wanted. Even a few teachers said you were too good to me. Iused to like to hear them say that because I knew I had the best dad in the world.

I can never thank you for everything you did for me, but I always tried to make you proud of me. I know sometimes I did things you didn’t like, butI’m sorry for everything I ever did to hurt you.

So-long for now and may God bless the best daddy in the whole world.

I love you, Harold”

I am so grateful that I had the chance to let my dad know, before he died, how special he was to me. Sometimes we neglect showing our gratitude toour loved ones while they are still with us.

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