Friday, September 19, 2008

The Final Journey, Part 3.

Obituaries follow the Joe Friday rule, just the facts. This is my Dad's:

MASON CITY - Howard Merlin Bagby Sr., 76 of Mason City died at 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4, 2008, at his residence.

He was born March 31, 1932, the son of John and Myrtie (Patterson) Bagby in Mason City. He married Doris Patterson on Oct. 1, 1955, in Mason City; she survives.

Also surviving are three sons, Howard Bagby of Calhoun, Ga., Steve Bagby of Mason City and Joe (Alisa) Bagby of Sheridan, Ind.; five grandchildren; a great-grandson; a brother, Norman Bagby of Williamsville; and two sisters, Betty Sparks of Mason City and Dixie Bergman of Lincoln.

He was preceded in death by two brothers and five sisters.

Services will be at 1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 8, 2008, at Hurley Funeral Home in Mason City. Burial will be in Big Grove Cemetery. The Rev. Curt McCallister will officiate.

Visitation will be on Sunday, Sept. 7, 2008, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be left to Big Grove Cemetery or Leases Grove Cemetery. Hurley Funeral Home in Mason City is in charge of arrangements.

You can only say so much in one. I don't know what each newspaper charges, but based on the Springfield paper, it can be very expensive. When my wife died 8 years ago it cost me $30. To pay for Dad's the cost was 15 cents per character.

Dad grew up in a large family. There were 11 children, but 2 died in infancy. He was the youngest boy. Dad dropped out of school after 8th grade to help work on the family farm. When he was 18 he enlisted in the Marine Corps. Until recently he never talked much about his experiences there. He served in Korea and saw combat there. Through battlefield promotions he made the rank of Staff Sargent. When he returned to the states he had to take a test to retain the rank, which he passed. He told me there was some resentment from some of the other Staff Sargents because of his age but that didn't bother him. What did bother him was the fact that because he did not have a high school diploma he could not become an officer. Had he reenlisted he would have been assigned to the marine base in Quantico,Virginia where he would have trained officers in the use of weapons. He was not good enough to be one, but he could train one. That bothered him and when his time was up he returned home. He had told his family he was never going to get married, then he met Mom.

Mom was a friend of one of his sisters and was in her class. They married on October 1, 1955. They bought a house and 8 acres of land, and still live on that property today. A new house was built in 1974. When they got married Dad worked at Corn Products, where he loaded bags of seed onto railroad cars. He got a job closer to home at what was then called Fabers, but is now called National By Products. It is a rendering plant. In case you don't know what that is, it is a place that takes meat scraps, dead animals, and old grease and converts them into tallow, which has many uses. On a hot summer day it gives off a unique odor. He also farmed and raised hogs. Eventually he left that job and farmed full time.

In 1984, at the age of 52, Dad got his GED. He applied at the Postal Service and got a job in Beardstown, Illinois. He worked there until he retired. His health was bad for many years. He had a weak heart and was diabetic. He had prostate cancer, but beat that. He was a fighter up to the end.

Dad always said when I was younger that he was going to build a cabin in some woods that we owned and just stay there after retirement. He couldn't have done that because he loved talking to people too much. When my youngest brother started school Mom went to work for the State of Illinois. Dad took over the cooking since he farmed and especially in the winter had more time. Cooking became one of his passions. After retirement he would cook things and take them to friends and neighbors. He really enjoyed doing that.

There were many lessons Dad taught us in life. My brother covered much of it in his prayer and I think he said it well enough that I am not going to rehash what he said. Dad was not a perfect man, but none of us are. In the end he gave us a great legacy. I owe my work ethic to him. You see so many people today just going through the motions and not wanting to put forth any effort. I was taught no matter what your job is, do it to the best of your ability. If you can help someone, do it. Laughter is a great thing. Dad kept his sense of humor up to the end.

It is hard to believe he is gone, but that is the fate that awaits us all. Before he died, Dad told me he had lived a good life and was ready to go. I am glad I made the decision to take an extra week off and got to spend that time with him. Good bye Dad. I love you.

It is ironic that I am posting this today. Today would have been my 30th wedding anniversary. Life goes on. You can bury yourself in grief, or pick yourself up and go on. I chose that path 8 years ago and I plan on living my life to the fullest. There are set backs along the way but every time you get knocked down just get up, count your blessings, and go forward. Anytime I mention this I am not asking for sympathy. I just like making people aware there are no guarantees in life so let those you care about know how you feel. You may never get another chance to let them know.


Jeff said...

This was beautiful, Howard. Great job. Your dad is very proud of you.

rrlane said...

You have my deepest sympathies, Howard.

Howard Bagby said...

Thank you Jeff and Rich.

eshawgo said...

You wrote very eloquently of your Dad, Howard. He was all that and more, and will be greatly missed by many people. They don't make 'em like him anymore.