Spend time with loved ones while you can

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter 1955 I was granted a 15-day leave while serving in the U.S. Navy to spend the holidays with my family. I spent little time at home because I was too busy running around looking for excitement. Drinking and staying out late took up the biggest part of my 15 days at home.

I don’t remember leaving, but

I’m sure my good-bye went something like this. “Dad, thanks for everything. Sorry I drank too much and didn’t spend much time at home.”

When I got back to the ship, I wrote him a letter and apologized for not spending much time with him and the family but promised to do better the next time I’d get a leave.

A couple of weeks later, at 7 a.m., I heard my name over the loud speaker to report to the quarter deck. The officer in charge was talking with two civilians from the Red Cross. After a casual greeting, they informed me that my dad had died suddenly at 2 a.m. that morning, April 26.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I told them it must be a mistake because I was just home, and my dad, only 48 years old, was a healthy-looking, hardworking man. One of the men asked if my dad’s name was Louis Keller of Reserve. I said, “It is.” He then said, “He died suddenly at 2 o’clock this morning.”

Arrangements were made for me to get an emergency leave and fly home for the funeral. From that time on, until a few days after the funeral, everything was like a bad dream.

The only good news about a bad dream is that you wake up and it’s over. In real life, death is final, and we live with only the memories.

The good memories overwhelmingly outnumber the bad. My dad was a great husband. He loved my mother and showed it. He was the best father a person could want.

He organized all the recreational activities in the community and was a protector and provider of our home.

With that said, today, as I reflect back on Easter of 1955 and my dad, I regret that I wasted that 15-day leave chasing after the wind when I could have spent quality time with a quality dad.

If you have any questions or comments, please write to Get High on Life, P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084, call (985) 652-8477, or e-mail: hkeller@comcast.net.