Goodbye to a Father

Paul Swope in 2016

On January 13, 2020 my dear father Paul Swope passed away at the age of 94. Dad was born on a central Kentucky tobacco farm in 1925. He lived through the great depression and served in the U.S. Army Air Corps and later the U.S. Air Force during World War II and the Korean conflict. He married my mother, Helen in 1952 and was not only devoted to her but adored her every day of their marriage until her death in 2016.

Dad was not a complicated man. He believed that if you tell the truth all of the time, take care of the people you love, help people in need, and love God, all will be well. He took his family and his job seriously but never took himself too seriously.

He was a mediocre golfer but loved playing the game more for the friends than the score. He could count cards in a poker game, act like he always had a bad hand and then smile as he took your money.

Dad, like men of his generation was stoic. While he served during World War II he never deemed himself a war vetran because he wasn’t depolyed in a combat zone. In his mind, the vetrans had faced death on the battlefield. He rarely expressed his emotions except when my brother and mother died. I don’t recall a single time that he told me that he loved me but his daily actions showed me his love. He lived by the doctrine that saying something without action is just opinion. If you do it, it is real. We never doubted his love.

I could go on and on about my father and his life but that isn’t the point of this post. Everyday people like me lose their loving fathers. Everyday they experience grief, mourn, pray and cry. If we have the courage to look at the entirety of their lives we can see that for most of us, our fathers were good, decent, and honorable men who led quiet but satisfying lives.

My Dad gave me life, and taught me how to live well, this week he showed me that it is possible to die well. I will miss him and our nice conversations, as well as the crazy questions about using his iPhone and iPad.

Rest In Peace Dad. You are finally reunited with your loving wife, youngest son and God.

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