(Private Photo - © by Pat Ruppel) ~~ My Dad, George "Roy" Collingwood. He went by Roy.
Unfortunately, I can only celebrate this Father’s Day with my Dad in spirit. I lost him in March of 1999 and I was just really getting to know him in the golden years of his life after all that time. He was 83 years young and due to turn 84 on his birthday that June 6th – D Day.
Yes, he was a World War II Veteran. He had a service album and showed us pictures from all over the world. Unlike a lot of Veterans, he talked a lot of the war. He had seen his share of the horror but his nature was to look for the good and mostly talked of the places he had seen during his tour.
Dad had grown up on the East coast and loved to swim. He talked of him and a friend swimming across the Delaware River at its narrowest point when they were only 10 or 11. Can you see kids doing that today?
He continued this love for the water throughout his life swimming in quarries, oceans and seas. One of the stories he told us was of a time during his tour of duty when their ship was in port. He often would dive off the side when they came in. This time when they were in a small inlet port he was about to dive off starboard when his buddies yelled at him to hold up.
From the ship, topside, they could see the narrow entrance to the port and a large shadow swimming under the surface of the water. A giant manta ray had appeared to enter the inlet and its wing-like fins stretched out to almost each side of the shore. Needless to say, my father stayed on board.
When he took us swimming in the ocean at my grandparents we’d play around and soon he’d disappear, then all of a sudden his feet would appear. He was doing a hand stand under water.
Then, there was the time in his latter years, 78, when he had gone fishing in a small lake using a friend’s canoe. He had never been in a canoe before and it tipped over when he was out in the middle of the lake. He swam back to shore with the canoe in tow but was more upset from losing his tackle box and prized lures. He said he’d never go out in a canoe again.
There are many stories I could tell of my Father, as you can, as well, reflecting on those special moments. I miss him and know he’s out there in another time and place taking up his rod and reel walking into the sunset – goin’ fishing.
I celebrate and honor all of the Dads out there this weekend to include my husband. Here’s a tribute to you – young and old - new Dads and Grandfathers – Dads with little girls and Dads with young men – Sons, Grandsons and Sons-in-Law - one and all. I wish you happiness and a loving day surrounded by those most dear to you.