Here it is. 20 years to the day since my father, Darrell E. Rodgers Sr., took his flight into the immortal realm. 20 years later and I still think of him every day.
He was born in 1925, the second son born to Eugene and Mabel Rodgers in a small Pennsylvania coal mining town. The neighborhood kids would call him “Pinky” because is older brother was already called “Red”. What else would you call Red’s little brother than “Pinky”? He joined the Navy in 1943 and served his country during World War II. He attended college (GWU in Washington, DC) on the GI Bill and became a Civil Engineer and a Land Surveyor. He fathered three children and stayed married to the same woman until his death did them part.
The older I get, the more I marvel at my father’s accomplishments. No, he was neither rich nor famous, but what he managed to do for his family was special. He built a business of his own and at one point managed to employ all three of his children, a daughter-in-law and his youngest brother. He kept us all fed.
More importantly, he taught us Faith. I’m not talking about blind acceptance of something unseen, I’m talking about a real “conscious knowledge” of what is right. It’s the kind of faith that gives you the courage to act.
Pink Rodgers was a friend to many people, high and low. He had millionaire friends (back when a million was a lot of money) and he had poor friends whom he would help with work when he could, and charity when needed. I remember one Christmas when he and some neighbors spent that winter night not in the warmth of their homes, but traveling around the community in a truck to collect clothing and food for a family whose house had just burned to the ground. It was family he didn’t know until that night.
He loved wit and humor. He loved golf. He loved his granddaughter. He liked to make silly faces at her and with her. They would go on walks together. It thrilled me to see them together and made me quite proud because I knew that grandchild was the most special blessing anyone could have given him, and I had done it. His second granddaughter was only 7 months and a few days old when he died at age 63 of an aortic aneurysm. I’m glad he got to see and hold her, too. Had he lived, he could have enjoyed two more granddaughters and a red-haired grandson, courtesy of my sister and brother.
As a Baha’i, I believe that life is spiritual in nature, and that spiritual life is eternal and separated from this world by only a veil that is “gossamer-thin”. I believe he sees and enjoys all his grand kids today. And in a few months, that first grandchild, my daughter, will marry a fine man and perhaps soon start a family of her own. Great Grand Children! Won’t he just enjoy seeing THEM!. I guess this picture represents the two greatest blessings in my own life: Parents who prayed for me before and after my birth, and Children who will pray for me before and after my death. Teamed now with a bride who will help me in between, life is pretty well covered.
But today, more than ever, I remember my dad. After 20 years, I still miss him.