June 9, 2019 at 2:29 pm #5231
Each Father’s Day it seems I miss my dad, Donald Gee, more than ever after his passing in February 2003. He was, in addition to my hero, a guiding light on how to live my life without him. I honor him on this Father’s Day, not only for what he did for me, for what he gave me, aside from material things, but most of all, for what he did for others.
I can remember long ago, hundreds of workers at the Nevada Test site went on strike, many of them were customers in my parents jewelry store on Fremont Street. My dad pulled all of the charge account files of those workers and notified them all that no payments needed to be made on those accounts until the strike was resolved and they all returned to work. It took a great deal from my parent’s monthly income to make that gesture but they did it anyway.
Nelson Mandela once said “Service to others is the rent you pay for space on earth.” My dad was a member of the Executive Lions Club for many years and held many offices within the club over those years. After his retirement my dad became even more involved, taking on the Lions Eye Conservation Clinic as his major project. In that capacity he took on the challenge of evaluating men, women and especially children who needed anything from special eye glasses to major eye surgeries they could not have afford without major financial assistance. The Executive Lions Club flew patients all over the country, often by private planes flown by Lions Club members who were retired pilots, where ever their type of surgical need was available.
As was his pattern when people asked him about his service in the British Combined Ops, (England’s version of the Green Beret’) he would only speak of funny experiences, never bad things. With Eye conservation, it touched him so strongly, especially the children, he worked tirelessly never asking for acclaim of any kind.. Yet my cupboard holding his many plaques and awards show how respected his was for that work.
The face he showed to the public as he aged was that of a gentleman and clown, ask anyone who knew him then. Thinking of him now, with love and still the pain of loss, I remember most of all, for the silly off key rendition of Nat King Cole’s Apple Blossom Time that he would serenade my mother with.. the way he would hold a lady’s hand, all of them he met, with a light kiss on that hand and the words “I love you, I love you” as my mother watched in amusement.
My absolute favorite memory was as a very young child, each Christmas my dad would go to the local orphanage in London, near our tri-level town house and take 12 children home for the holidays. I remember looking out of the window of our home and seeing them walking in a line, two by two, dad along side with a “swagger stick” under his arm, marching to our front door. My mother had a dormitory set up in her work room and I slept there with my “temporary siblings”.. As the holidays came to a close there were tears, from all of us as they got ready to return to their “home”, my parents both wishing they could adopt them all.
I honor you, Donald Gee for the wonderful father you were, for the love you gave my mother, and the life you gave us…
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