Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Father: In Memoriam

My father, James Robert Sunderland, Sr., died Sunday morning, February 06, 2011, at home. My sister, Jill, his constant all his life, was there. Dad died in her arms.

He lived a long life, almost 89 years. We all found out October 06 that he was in the final stages of pulmonary fibrosis. Hospice came the end of November. I stayed with him and Jill three months, I will always cherish those nice being HOME.

A good interior designer is all about "home.". We decorate our butts off to make our clients' houses feel like HOMES. All houses have walls and windows; HOMES have much more: favorite colors, family photos,...a combo-platter of memories, momentos, and much more.

Dad's home, my home in Altoona, Pennsylvania, was purchased the year after he returned from WWII in 1946. It was a pre-fab house from Sears, $5000 I think, as many were back then. It was, according to my friends, the tiniest house they ever saw.

Recognizing this hard-and-true fact, my brother, sister, and I always knew that although small, our little house was never lacking in anything, at least for us. Sure, we didn't have running hot water until I was a teenager, but we always went to school and church quite clean,
dressed to the nines, and Mom excelled in housecleaning and laundry services (Minnie's favorite thing in the world, laundry).

My parents always bought the best they could afford, whether it be clothes or home furnishings. Children of the Great Depression, it never took much to make either of them happy. But we all enjoyed new things as they became affordable to us. And we KEPT them. We kept those things for a very long time. We were "hoarders" before there was a name for it (why get rid of something that you still enjoy?)

My gifts from Dad and Mom were many. Some were wrapped in paper; most were not. The biggest and best gift, by far, was the understanding of Love of God, of Family, of Country. Dad was one of "the few, the proud,...The Marines. His services were, if I do say so myself, a loving tribute to the man he was. It was a CELEBRATION of his life, his duty to his Country, his love of his family, but, most of all, his Faith in his God.

Appropriately enough, this celebration took place at Asbury United Methodist Church, where he had been a member for over 65 years. Committal was at Soldiers' Circle at Grandview Cemetary. Three Marines drove up from Arlington, Virginia, in a snowstorm to "take care of their own."

On this Memorial Day, May 30, 2011, I honour my father, The Marine. Before he was a husband, before he was a father or grandfather, he was a Marine. He served his country with Duty, Honor, and Courage. He came back from the South Pacific; many did not. He always reminded me of that fact.

I'm not a Veteran, nor a Marine, but I know the value of the gift of being raised by one. Semper Fi, Dad! Love, your son, Mark.