When I was very young, and the Colonel was much older, we spent many magical moments together. I remember so distinctly these moments- frozen in a place where we were the only two people on earth. I would sit on his knee and we would play this game he called 'Blackbirds on a Fence.' He would put little pieces of black electrical tape on his fingers and make the birds 'fly away,' one by one. I can still sense those moments- one by one- when he made me feel loved and as if I was the only one who mattered.
We had a special bond... I know that now.
In 1969, the Colonel passed away from complications caused by schistosomiasis, a parasite he picked up in the Philippines, which turned into kidney cancer. I was only 6 years old when he died, but his light still fills me today. Some days, it's as if he never left.
If I had known of his amazing life then, I would not have appreciated it. Now, however, I appreciate him and his contributions so much, I have made it my purpose to tell the world of his strength. My hope is that it will seep in between the cracks and crevices of peoples' lives and make them stronger too.
I wish he were here so I could tell him what his legacy really is...not just his service, or a life well-lived, but pure inspiration... something we all need...because we all sit on that fence---like birds---between the Improbable and the Possible.