By John R. Greenwood
|Happy Days at the Greenwood's|
My father passed away seven years ago today. My sister was with him at the hospital when he died. I was teaching a Defensive Driving Course at work when she called me. I got there as soon as I could but it was too late. Dad battled poor health for years. He was a tough son-of-gun and fought back death many times during the last years of his life. Mom lost her fight a few years before dad. This morning my sister sent me a short message reminding me what day it was. She even remembered the exact time. I guess when you're with the person when they die you never forget the details. Her message said she was going to try and write something for his Legacy Page today. She said she might have a hard time so maybe I could write something just in case. I pulled out an old album and I found this photograph. It's one of my favorites of the four of us. It's probably one of my sister's too. It was taken in the backyard of our house in Greenfield Center, New York around 1957. We lived there until the mid sixties. We had a huge backyard and a garden the size of half a football field. At the back edge of the property was large grove of pine trees. The Greenfield General Store was just one house away to the south. It was Mayberry RFD and we lived smack dab in the middle of it. We rode our bikes on the dirt path that ran in front of the dozen or so houses beyond ours. There was always a group of children playing somewhere. We were never bored and we were always on the move. These were the happiest of days. My sister was a few years older and she was always my hero. She looked out for me even when I was being a pest. I don't ever remember her picking on me or teasing me. Even when, as the boy and the baby I got quite a bit more attention, she never took it out on me.
When I look at this picture I see happy kids with happy parents. They were happy days. My parents were married a long time and as with most families there were some not so happy times. But that's the way life goes. You cherish the good times and survive the not so good ones. They say you never really know what you have until it's gone but I think I always did know what I had. It wasn't perfect but it was the fifties and sixties and there was a lot going on. We got to experience all of it. My sister had the Beatles, and I had Theodore Cleaver. We saw man walk on the moon and John Wayne on live television. We were living the real-life Happy Days when Richie Cunningham was still Opie.
My father taught me to fish and put the chain back on my bike. He also taught me how to drink and smoke. It wasn't nirvana but the good far outweighed the bad. It was life in general. I savored it then and I'm savoring it to this day. I loved my parents and I miss them. I love my sister, I hope she knows how much. I've enjoyed many happy days and I look forward to many more. But if the train stops tomorrow, I've had one heck of a ride thanks to my family.
Dad, this one's for you.
Here's a link to my father's: Legacy Page