Please convey my heartfelt condolences to your mother Pat, to Kim, to Barry and to the rest of your extended family and friends over the passing of your dad this week. His long life gave us all much to admire, and my wife and I are thankful to have enjoyed some time with him. Some impressions of him are worth sharing and at the risk of being too sentimental, I will try.
Carter and Pat were out to visit LA to check on their eldest child, and presumably to keep on the straight and narrow. Rick was the senior member of our cardiology group, and the Newton's came out to stay at his hilltop luxury home for Christmas. They enjoyed the nice views, the open spaces overlooking the canyon below, and were happy for Rick's success. What was so impressive about Pat and Carter was that they were most content being just Mom and Dad. They had no pretense about wanting to impress anyone, jump into the fast life of the city, or make sure they made the rounds as tourists. We met them at dinner and they just wanted to talk about young Rick growing up, his young brother and sister, and life on the Air Force bases. Rick was clearly just their kid, and it was obvious that they just loved him for being a good son, so much more than being impressed by any of his accomplishments. They talked about their challenging life of moving wherever and whenever the military deemed it necessary, but there was never a hint that this even made them break stride. Carter and Pat reminisced about the experience as if it were a first class Cruise around the Mediterranean. If it was difficult to manage on a military salary, pack up and move every year or two, make new friends at every stop (and certainly it had to be), they somehow seemed to have embraced these challenges with a welcoming smile and an inner confidence that filled the room.
Carter would grumble about things, but usually only when him son wouldn't listen. Quotes like:
"you're awfully loose with your finances."
"why don't you get rid of that jeep."
"are you going to church at all?"
"no I won't come down and do a damn treadmill test at your office"
"I am busy installing a ceiling fan, so don't bother me"
No matter what else, he was always just a Dad. His perspective was always so grounded, so constant, so reliable, and why not be opinionated? He earned that right.
In recent times, deserved attention is being directed upon Carter and Pat's generation for their contributions, with acknowledgement as "the Greatest Generation." It must be stated that it was the Carter and Pat Newton's in the crowd, who made it so. They grew up in the depression, the "dirty thirties." Their young adult years were spent in the Wartime. While the women minded the homes, factories, businesses, schools and kept the country going, the men fought the war. Heroism, sacrifice and selflessness became routine, ordinary days for these giants. We can never say enough about how they saved the Free World and it's great democracies from Fascism and tyranny. They shrugged that off, and then proceeded to build the modern America. Some talked constantly and reminisced of their roles in the war. Not Carter and Pat, they moved on. It was time to get on with work, raising a family, building a community. They never looked for any special recognition, just an opportunity to be part of the dream. They clearly showed that they enjoyed the journey as much as the results, even if Carter had to grumble at his kids a bit to keep them in line. Hey, someone had to do it.