Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Dick Ervin (left) skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho 1947.
Last year in October, my father died.  My favorite photo of him is above, as a young man, skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho with friends.  He was an excellent slalom skier and qualified as an alternate in the Olympics during the late 1940s.  He was also a salesman for materials handling equipment and a business owner in the same industry until he retired.  During World War II he was a B-17 pilot in the European Theatre.  His last year of service was spent flying 'high pointers' to Morocco for the final leg of their journey to the U.S.

After the war my father married my mother, Genevieve.  The photo below is my mother on Mount Hood in Oregon where she met my father while skiing.

Genevieve Ervin skiing on Mount Hood.
My mother and father celebrated 34 years of marriage and raised three children, my brother, me and my sister.  They had tremendous affection for each other and managed to build a strong family even though they were not near parents or extended family.  In June of 1987, my mother died.  For a long time, the loss of my mother was the most important event in my life.  She did not live to see me engaged, married or have children.  Yet her love of life and stamina to meet challenges gave me the endurance to weather stress and laugh a little along the way.  Her response to the internist when she entered the hospital the last time is a good example of her wry humor. While going through the standard list of admitting questions, the doctor asked do you have your appendix, your tonsils, and so on.  My mother replied, "I have everything except my virginity."  Everyone in the room was laughing out loud!

A couple years after my mother died, my father married Geneva and moved back to the Northwest.  My step-mother, Geneva, is a lovely woman who was married to my father for almost 20 years.  I remain close to my step-mother and her family who all cared deeply for my father.

The pain of losing my father has been unparalleled in my life.  When my mother died, I was blindsided.  But my father was there with an emotional safety net.  Now, I'm living without a net.  Until shortly before he died, I spoke to my father nearly every other day.  We talked about everything, my work, his grandchildren, politics and the weather.  We disagreed on many, many things, but my father encouraged different points of view and we both loved our colorful discussions. 

For me and my family, the most tangible gift from my father is the financial support he gave us over the last four years during the economic recession.  He paid our mortgage for several months and co-signed a loan so my oldest son could finish college.  I thanked my father for his generosity many times, but I would also like you all to know that my father saved this family.

I have been blessed with many things, but perhaps the greatest of these is the love and generosity of my father.