Wednesday, August 11, 2010

* Remembering My Dad on His Birthday *

Today, August 11th, was my dad's birthday. He was born in 1924 and if the math portion of my brain is working at all this morning, that means he would've been 86 years old, but he died on November 30, 2002.

Those of you who've read my blog for awhile, know that my dad left us when I was a young girl. I have many memories, both happy and sad, but I won't go into any of the sad ones today.
This is how I remember my dad in the early 1960's.

I want to highlight his intelligence: His years as a student at Parks College in Cahokia, Illinois, and his years of teaching there, immediately following his graduation. He taught kinetics, which I had never heard of until last year when my husband, Ron and I attended Homecoming at SLU. Parks College has always been part of SLU- St. Louis University, but was in a separate location across the Mississippi River in Illinois, until 1997.  
(photo I took of a wall of memories in the Timeline Exhibit)
(This probably isn't "kinetics", but most math problems look the same to me: a foreign language!)

Parks Air College, as it was known in the beginning, has a wonderful, rich history of aviation.
I'm pretty sure it is still the place to attend for aeronautical the entire world.

This is my favorite photo from our visit last September. There are several walls covered with former and current professors' and other employees' pictures. I provided this one to be placed on the wall. (That's me, crouched down and pointing at it. I was thrilled to see my dad included among so many. This photo was placed in two separate areas and I was so glad neither was too high for me to see!)

Today, Parks College is known as: Parks College of Engineering, Aviation & Technology. It has such a rich and interesting history. Besides the fact that my dad, James G. Lewellen, attended and taught there, the very famous Gene Kranz of Apollo 13 fame, also went to Parks around the same time as dad.

I took this photo of a huge poster of Gene Kranz.
Ed Harris played Mr. Kranz in the movie, Apollo 13.

Happy Birthday, Dad. Although we spent many years apart, if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be here today. I wouldn't be the person I have become. I wouldn't be a writer. I wouldn't be me.  

"In mathematics, you don't understand things. You just get used to them." -- Johann von Neumann


  1. I love this tribute to your dad because I can relate to it. My dad didn't physically leave our family until I was in college, but he left me emotionally at about the age of 11. Like you, time has taught me to appreciate the good in him...And life has taught me not to judge him. I really think he did the best he could.

    And some of that "best" is well worth remembering.


  2. Hi Becky,
    What a touching tribute to your dad. I'm sure he is proud of the woman you've become.
    Donna V.

  3. what you wrote on your blog's header is very inspiring. and it's good to see a living example of dreams coming true. Your dad was-from what i could see-a very intelligent man. May God bless him and let him rest in piece

  4. Nice to see you have an open and generous heart to your dad who left you for whatever reasons of his own. One of the hardest things it to be both honest and fair about our own parents' human failings once we realize they are not perfect like we once thought.

    How is the back today?

  5. Hi Becky,

    This is an awesome post! What a honor it must have been for you to attend the reunion and see the good things that your Dad did during his career. I really like the photo of you holding his picture by the collage.

    You were a blessing to him, and like Donna said, I am sure that he was so very proud of you. I am glad that you got the chance to see him near the end.

    I hope your back is better today!


  6. Beautiful tribute, Becky and very moving. Having just lost someone myself, I can relate. We never stop missing those who have passed away, and birthdays always bring back the pain. I hope you're feeling well :)

  7. It is wonderful that you could go back and see part of his life first hand. A huge blessing! He sounds like he was an awesome dad.

  8. Hi Becky: Isn't it funny how even though our parents are gone from this life, we still calculate how old they WOULD have been on their birthdays, if they were here?

    My Dad's birthday was July 28th. Since he was born in 1912, he WOULD have been 98 this year but he died when he was 76, I believe.

    May your Dad as well as mine, rest forever in peace and eternal happiness. Susan

  9. Nice Becky that you could move beyond your heartache and honor your dad. Good for you.

  10. lovely tribute
    and I think
    I just found a lovely blog
    like it
    visit mine :D

  11. Becky, here's another one of those strange coincidences-my dad taught chemistry and physics (college)-I never liked to ask for homework help 'cause it'd take him like 30 minutes to explain something-when all I wanted was the answer! :-)

    What a warm tribute to your dad. He's probably smiling at you and your antics, wherever he is-

    (Hope the back's better!)

  12. This was very timely since I just found out that my ex is moving across the country, and of course the children are upset. But I didn’t reply yesterday because I needed to “marinate” a bit. I think you know that your experience with your father gives me hope that my children will be fine—possibly even more reflective—for the experience. And it’s sort of wonderful to find out that we are loved in some cases not for who we are, but maybe simply BECAUSE we are. I think parenting has far more to do with choices than genetics, and you got some great genes…and are making great choices on top of it! And forgiving is a great choice. Am glad that your father’s birthday brings you happy reflection. You are a wise woman.

  13. Hi Sue ~ Thank you for sharing this. As I read the comments yesterday and also e-mails from other women, I began to realize (again) just how many of us (women) have been effected by the fathers we had or didn't have. It took me many years to forgive him, but I am so glad I did.

    Hi Donna ~ Thank you. I hadn't really thought of that lately, but I seem to remember he did tell me that the last year he was alive.

    Hello Maha ~ Thank you so much for stopping and leaving a comment! It's always great to see new names and faces on my blog! I appreciate your kind words.

    Hey Bookie ~ Ah, I loved the way you worded that...about realizing our parents are not/were not perfect! My back is much better today (Thursday). Thanks!

    Hi Kathy ~ Thank you for your sweet comments. It really was special seeing the photos, etc. when I was there! He would've been thrilled, I'm sure!

    Hi Sam ~ Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I'm sorry you've recently lost someone. I wish you well, too.

  14. Hi Terri ~ Thanks! I remember going to Parks with my dad once in a while, sometimes on a Saturday just to hang out. Other times, my brother and I were allowed to tag along and sit in the back of his class room!

    Hi Susan ~ Thank you! Yes, that is odd that we do that, isn't it? I guess it's part of our always remembering and never quite letting go? I'm sorry your dad passed away so many years ago. Thank you for the very kind words.

    Hi Lynn ~ Thank you. Yes, it took me many years, but I'm so thankful that I did come to terms with it best as I could, anyway.

    Hi Linda ~ Thank you. I guess when it comes from the heart, it just shows, huh?

  15. Hello Ladyulia ~ Thank you so much! Another lovely comment from a new visiter!

    Hey Miss Cathy C ~ Thank you! Yes, the math side of the brain, and the literary side just don't mix well, do they?! I've always had a problem with math! Glad we have another cool thing in common! And thanks, yes my back is a better today!

    Hi Tammy ~ Gosh, I'm sorry to hear that about your ex, since it is hurting your kids. But you never know...this could be one of those things that happens in life, that turns out to be really good, but won't be realized until sometime later. Thanks for your kind words about my "wise-ness"! I truly believe you are quite a wise woman, as well.

  16. Becky, how lucky you are to have all those memories about your dad... I totally agree with you: we are who we are because of our parents (good, bad, poor, rich, smart,genious, simple minded, weak, responsible or not so..) the end, it is our choice how to channel or what to do with their influence in our lives. Happy Birthday to him!

  17. Hi Becky, What an interesting guy your dad was. The birthday tribute was beautiful and I'm sure he smiles down at you today. Now tell us some about your mom. Love you, Mollye

  18. Hi OJ ~ Thank you so much for your beautiful, insightful comments! I'm truly happy and inspired, reading all these lovely words. I have many very thoughtful and intelligent friends!

    Hi Jennifer ~ Thanks for the birthday wishes to dad!

    Hi Mollye ~ Thank you! You know, it's kind of strange because when I began writing this post, it WAS going to focus more on the negative...but somehow, as writers know, the "story" took over and decided which way to go! I'm sorry to say that I posted very little about my mom on her birthday, which was just last Friday. I was in the midst of other "rants" that day....Fractured Friday...and I didn't give poor old mom what she deserved. I will write about her later tonight or tomorrow....It will just be a week late!

  19. Very nice tribute to your Dad, Becky. Hugs to you.

  20. What a beautiful & loving tribute to your Dad !! Thanks for sharing your memories.. I enjoyed reading and learning of them..
    The Turtle Lady

  21. Hey Becky, just wanted you to know that I do get on here and check out what you're doing. I'm just usually too rushed to write. Which is what you'd better be doing, writing.
    ...your ever watchful publisher.

  22. Hi Becky, Thanks for the memories of Parks College. I was actually an employee of the college in the early 80's and have very fond memories of my time there. I even met my husband and father of my 2 sons while working there. Just wanted to update you on a little of history though. Parks College was not always a part of Saint Louis University. In fact, it was founded by Oliver Parks in 1927 and he eventually donated it to SLU in 1946. I've seen some recent pictures of the original campus in Cahokia as it stands today and am very sad at the ghost campus it has become (vandalized on top of everything). Sad to see such a historic campus in such shape. However, I will hang onto my memories as a they are of a thriving campus full of some of the top professors and students in their fields. Thanks again from brining up the wonderful memories I have of the historic campus.

  23. Hi Michele! Thanks so much for your comment. How in the world did you come across my blog?? And yes, you're right about Oliver Parks. I didn't write that part correctly, did I? That's amazing that you worked at Parks and met your husband there. Thanks again for taking the time to leave a wonderful comment. Please stop by again,anytime!


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