Today I lay my father Gene Alden Moore to rest and I know my life will never me the same.
For 56 years he was my confidant, my sage, my role model and my best friend.
Where do I begin? The last week has been a jumble of emotions, grief, sadness, anger along with the relief knowing that he is no longer in pain.
Over the past few days I have travelled through memories of our lifetime together. Some memories flood back and well up my tears.
The trips to Dr. Powers Park as he helped me climb across the train and throw Frisbees to me and my brother from the engineer’s window. Helping me roll a bowling ball and cheering at a strike and consoling me on the inevitable gutter ball. Stopping me from crying as I was scared watching a horror movie and letting me hide behind his back when the Frankenstein monster came on the television screen.
He always took time on his lunch hour to play catch in our backyard. I can remember talking into the early morning hours after he finished his late shift at work. We would sit on the couch and just talk, not about anything in particular, but just to learn about each other’s day and how we were doing.
We spent many wonderful afternoons sitting together next to the grill as he taught me the finer points of outdoor cooking. I remember he spent a rainy Labor Day afternoon trying to keep the grill lit to keep our back to school barbecue tradition going.
Holidays were always all about family. I remember the days we went to the Christmas tree lot and he let my brother and me pick the tree and then it became our job to decorate it with a little help from dad putting the star on top. I would wait by the front window for his headlights to pull into the driveway as he got off work on Christmas Eve and even the night he sat on the side of the bed and tried to get me to go to sleep so Santa could visit our street.
There was the Thanksgiving Day we let the turkey burn on the grill rotisserie because we were trying to watch a football game and the day my dad and his father told me to feed my grandmother’s dog at the dinner table even though she had forbid it. My brother and I along with dad kept feeding her dog pieces of turkey and rolls right up to the point where grandma walked in and voiced her displeasure. We all laughed at the silliness and later I sat next to dad on their couch as we had dessert in the last Thanksgiving meal our whole family was together.
Later in life there were the days going to the flying field as a member of the Tracy Skyliners R/C Club to fly our radio control airplanes. I remember the joy in his face after years of building balsawood airplanes one finally lifted off the ground. He turned and we shook hands at the success.
He stood behind me in our garage and helped me build my first radio control airplane which he bought for me as a surprise. He kept his passion for the club right up until he died.
Through the years there was playing golf together, going to airshows, our trip to Disneyland where his hat sailed past me on the first turn at Space Mountain. Trips to the San Francisco wharf, nights looking at the moon through his old telescope set in the backyard and trips to the river to our old fishing spot.
I remember when my mom got sick, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer, and the day dad walked into my apartment’s kitchen and tapped the table and told me to sit down, we needed to talk. He never told me we needed to talk, if we wanted to we just talked. After he told me about mom’s cancer I walked him out to his truck and broke down just before I made it back to the front door. He was always so much stronger than me. That never changed.
Years later mom slipped into dementia and Alzheimer’s and dad was her sole caregiver. I tried to help but looking back it wasn’t near enough. Eventually she slipped even beyond his dedicated care and she went into a convalescent hospital.
On mom’s last day we asked for a priest to give her the Last Rights. We had been taking turns sitting with mom and holding her so somehow she would know she wasn’t alone. After the Last Rights were over dad sat down on the bed beside her facing away from the rest of us, picked up her hand and held it as he cried. It was the first time I had ever seen him cry.
Living alone after mom’s death he tried to move on but he missed mom with a heart ache filled from 54 years of marriage together, it just wasn’t the same. He was lonely he told me. But he kept moving on, he didn’t give up.
A year after mom died my brother Gene died a couple of days after Thanksgiving. It took me nearly an hour to work up the words to tell him his eldest son had died.
A little over a year ago he fell and broke his shoulder and a hip. He almost died before I found him. He tried to go through physical therapy and recuperate but it just hurt too much. After he was released from the convalescent hospital he lived with me and my family for just about a year. He was getting weaker, everything hurt. He told me he had a good life and he wasn’t afraid to die. He told me not to be sad when he passed. He was always thinking about me.
The day he died I told him I was heading to work and I would see him later. He told me to be careful. A few hours later sitting on the couch he took a nap and never woke up.
A life together over 56 years. I could speak about him for years and nothing would come close to being able to describe the man he was and how he shaped me to become the man I am today.
I know the heart ache I feel today as I see him for the last time will last a lifetime for me. All I can do is move forward as he did. To carry on. To live life. That’s what he would want.
I won’t say goodbye today. Goodbye is forever. I will tell him what I always said, “I’ll see you later dad.”
If there is a merciful God in heaven one day he will let me see my dad again when it’s my time to leave this world. And on that day I will walk in the sunshine with dad, mom and my brother once again. We will be a family again, together again.
Until then I will keep my happy memories and the sad ones together. They are what makes the story of my father and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Looking back there has been no prouder moment than when I could say “this is my father Gene Moore.” It was an honor to be his son and to be able to talk about our life together.
I love you dad, thank you for being my father. I love you until the end of time.
Rest easy now, kiss mom for me and tell Gene I said hi.
I’ll see you later dad.