1929 to 2010 – there were a lot of wonderful things that happened between here and there, and my Dad got to see it, participate in it, and make advances in many fields. He was the quintessential engineer, who was truly a rocket scientist on Gemini, Apollo and bits of the Space Shuttle, cold war technician building the DEW line, communicator and warrior in Korea, and all the bits in between. A product of his generation that chaffed against the status quo always wanting more, with a measure of success that told of a life well lived and not wasted.
He has three children, a devoted wife, and a handful of grand children that are all doing well, we never missed a beat, we didn’t go to jail, we didn’t get overcome by drugs or alcohol, and we didn’t live off the state. We all had/have generally happy childhoods with the usual trauma, and sometimes the unusual trauma we all experience growing up, all of us cut our own path in this world, and we also chaffed against the status quo.
So what is there to say about my father?
He was deeply angry at times, he was deeply happy at times, like all of life with its usual ups and downs how we deal with life is just as important as we deal with anything else. Imagine all the things he saw come about, and the exuberance of the age, growing up during the depression, World War 2, Cold War, Atomic Bombs, Korea, McCarthy, Vietnam, the Hippie movement, the Yippy movement, walking in space, walking on the moon (which he played part in), a start to the end of segregation, Johnson’s “great society”, Nixon leaving office in shame, inflation, WIN (Whip Inflation Now), Carter, Iranian Hostage crisis, Regan, ages of greed, ages of famine, ages of shame, his children grew up and went their own way, but we are all still tied to family in our own way. What an amazing series of events he was lucky enough to have witnessed and participated in. With the encroachment of technology that he so dearly loved (much like his son, and his grand children) throughout his life like a silver thread of continuity, he saw this all, and helped create a lot of the neat things that helped us in war and in peace.
He was truly a product of the engineering schools of the late 40’s early 50’s. If you have never lived with an engineer, you might not get that statement. Coolly logical in the face of children, an enigma, hard to approach with emotions or the general hurts of childhood.
Memorable moments included me bringing home a new girlfriend in high school with a see through top, leopard skin tights, and a skimpy skirt (hey it was the 80’s and my friends and I were all being little punk rockers), with the admonishment never to bring another one home like that again. I often wonder what happened to her, but he had an influence on that relationship, as he had an influence on many of my early relationships as he approved or disapproved of who I brought home.
Like all parents, they have an amazing influence on what their children do and what they don’t do. I didn’t become a punk rock star, rather I became an educator, I didn’t become an engineer, rather I went into computer security, and we all lived our lives according to our own beliefs.
Did I love him, like all father son relationships there is love and hate, but it was love in the end that defined the relationship, we made our peace a long time ago. Not to say that arguments did not happen since then, but they were stupid, like most arguments are.
So he lived a good life, he did amazing things, he made a difference to thousands of lives that didn’t even know because of government clearances and the thoughts of the day when the Soviet Union was the big bogy man. In the end, there was mutual respect for who we were, and that is all you can really ask in a father son relationship, in the end we were proud of each other, what we had accomplished, and who we turned out to be.
With much love
Ralph Daniel Morrill