My dad passed away Saturday morning just 41 days short of his 98th birthday. The number 41 is significant since that’s the year my dad raced to the nearest recruitment station to enlist in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.
While he wanted to be shipped to the Pacific (to exact retribution) he was told, instead, the only immediate opening was with the U.S. Coast Guard.
He signed the papers and forever rued the fact that he wasn’t alongside his brother, George, fighting Nazi Germany or with his other brother, Chris, doing battle with the Japanese as a member of the fabled Merrill’s Marauders.
But, make no mistake. He served his country.
Pop-Pop, as he was known by family, friends and restaurant waitresses alike, lived a very, very full life. Indeed, his life spanned 17 separate presidential administrations.
He was not a superstar in business. Instead, he put in his time as a blue-collar worker raising three children in a decidedly blue collar town. But he, and my mom, scrimped and saved to assure all three of their children would be able to attend college.
Pop-Pop really didn’t come into his own until my son, Chris, and daughter, Catharine, were born.
Any shortcomings as a father were more than made up by his being a superb grandfather and, in the past year, the proud great grandfather to Adrian Joseph A.J. “The Juice” Cody who, ironically, marked his first birthday on the very same day Pop-Pop passed away.
I would be remiss in not singling out the remarkable relationship formed between Pop-Pop and Chris, my son, and his first, and only, grandson. They spoke every single day over the past few decades.
I’d like to end by explaining the headline: Semper Paratus. It’s The U.S. Coast Guard’s motto and, translated, means “Always Vigilant.”
Pop-Pop was always vigilant of the phenomenal family he had surrounding him and always insisted we spend as much time together as possible. We did so, right up until the moment he drew his final breath.
I’m still hard at work arranging for my mom’s and dad’s ashes to be interred at a Veterans Memorial Cemetery in NJ (replete with a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps).
If you should be so inclined, you can make a donation in his name, Arthur Cody, at the Coast Guard Foundation. The instructions are self-explanatory.
Semper Paratus, Pop-Pop.