by Pa Rock
My sister, Gail, called a couple of hours ago to let me know that our father, Garland Macy, passed away very early on Christmas morning. He ended where he began eighty-five years ago, in Newton County, Missouri. Enough happened in those intervening years to fill several lifetimes.
My dad was a true child of the Great Depression. He was born to Charles Eugene and Hazel Josephine (Nutt) Macy on a hardscrabble farm between Seneca and Neosho. The family was poor, never owning a car and having to accept rides to town from relatives or neighbors. That poverty, which was pervasive across much of the country during those difficult years, had a lifelong impact on my dad - as it did with so many of his generation.
World War II brought the Depression to an end, and it also proved to be the vehicle by which many young people were able to break through their poor circumstances and connect with the future and the world beyond. Dad volunteered to join the Army Air Corps soon after he graduated from Neosho High School in 1942. His Army service took him to several bases in the United States for training, and finally led him to England and France. He attained the rank of Staff Sergeant, and received the Purple Heart for a wound received in France during a training exercise.
My Dad was fiercely independent, a trait that was undoubtedly rooted in his impoverished childhood. His most serious fault (and we all have faults) was a lifelong interest in making money and ensuring that he and his family did not have to endure the conditions that he experienced in his youth. Making money bordered on being an obsession with him. He could be generous to a fault and was always there to help when someone needed something, but if he was spending money on merchandise, especially cars, he would haggle to the last nickel. While I was often critical of his overt materialism, I do recognize that it provided me many opportunities that I would have not had if he had been content to spend his life working for an hourly wage in a factory.
My dad owned several businesses during his lifetime, and also had quite a few rental properties at one time. He often bragged that he and my mother only rented one home in their lifetimes, and that was just for a couple of months. He knew the value of money and understood how to put it to use.
My mother passed away in 1986. She was a complete invalid for a couple of years preceding her death, but Dad took care of her at home by himself - often getting up in the middle of the night to attend to her. He did not want to see her in a nursing home, and he fought to the very end to stay independent himself.
As my dad aged, he began to develop more of a sense of what truly mattered in life. I moved away from him five years ago, but I tried to make up for that necessary abandonment by telephoning each evening. We have had well over a thousand calls since I began my current career, and it was through those phone calls that he and I finally got to know each other as we had not been able to do before.
I talked to my Dad yesterday evening, as I always did (that will be a hard habit to break!). He told me that he had fallen earlier in the day and hurt himself while he was out delivering Christmas candy to his renters - one of his annual traditions. He said that he was hurting, but that he had taken a Tylenol and was going to bed. He thought that he might have broken a rib. I was concerned, but not overly so because he had been able to make it home. I told him to get to the hospital in the morning for x-rays if he was still hurting. Then I called Gail and let her know. It was already dark in the Ozarks and it was beginning to snow.
Sometime after midnight Dad called an ambulance and asked to be taken him to Freeman Hospital in Neosho - the same hospital where his only two children were born. His heart stopped while he was being transported. He was resuscitated and made it to the hospital. His heart stopped again there, and they were not able to revive him. It was around 1:20 a.m. Ozarks' time. He was tough and self-sufficient to the very end.
Besides Gail and I, my Dad leaves seven grandchildren. They are, by age: Nick Macy, Heidi and Jason Pfetcher, Molly and Scott Files, Tiffany and Nathan Burke, Justin and Lisa Smith, Tim and Erin Macy, and Reed Smith. He had six great-grandchildren ranging in age from ten years to less than a month. They are, also by age: Boone Macy, Lauren Pfetcher, Sebastian Files, Brieanna Macy Burke, Ruby Pfetcher, and Judah Files.
We will all miss our father and grandfather. He was a good man who managed to live life on his own terms. He truly was part of the greatest generation.