I want to spend a few minutes remembering my father. He has been dead for nearly 32 years. Many of those years I was angry at him for dying at age 63, because he left me here to cope by myself. Today I’m thinking about him because I am knowing his emotions and how this understanding helps me to know myself.
Ross Edwin Hamilton was the middle son of five boys. He was born in Ontario, Canada to a Canadian Pacific Railroad engineer from Scotland and his gracious wife Alice, who was a nurse. Alice was also the Methodist Church organist. It was discovered she had TB and still she continued to care for other people until it was too late and she died. Several years later, while his father was cleaning his rifle after a successful hunting trip, one of the boys playing around picked up the gun and fatally shot him. Each of the boys was sent off to live with a different one of his mother’s aunts.
Ross was sent to a dairy farm in near Saskatoon Saskatchewan. His mother had managed to leave each of the boys a small amount of education money. That money was soon spent on the farm. Ross lived above the dairy cows in the barn, and every morning he drove the wagon school bus or the sleigh and picked up all the children dropped them at the school, handed his homework over to the teacher, and proceeded to go home and work. He absolutely loved the workhorses that were part of his job. When the farmyard was too muddy he often rode the hog across the yard to keep his shoes in good form. His other great love was the railroad.
He put himself through university by stoking the boilers, working in a school for the deaf, being an engineer on the train, and maintaining a factory job with the Canada Dry Company. He was considered brilliant.
Ross’s first job after university was as the principal, hockey coach, and upper level teacher for a small rural school district. His future wife taught first grade and was responsible for every child in the first grade being able to ice skate.
He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II. His primary job was to make sure every enlisted man received a high school diploma. He was constantly changing ships and struggling to find resources to teach from, consequently he learned navigation from the stars and how to tie every knot in the book!
He only talked about three things of his war experience which were 1.) never serve him cottage cheese or brussel sprouts, 2.) always be respectful and a gentleman, and 3.) every human being deserves to live their life to the fullest (this was from liberating the concentration camps and work camps).
Ross received his Doctoral Certification in Education from Columbia University in New York City. In my lifetime, I have heard my father being described as the Einstein of Education many times. He came to Washington State as Director of Special Education and his team created the school systems that were the best in the nation.
His friend Helen Keller introduced him to Rose Kennedy; he was interviewed numerous times by Pres. Kennedy and was packing up his household to become Secretary of Education when Pres. Kennedy was killed. Thus began seven years of various periods of unemployment. He did some work in Canada for one of his brothers, he was superintendent of schools in New Jersey — covering for a heart attack, and he spent every summer teaching summer school all over the country.
He finally returned to his beloved West Coast and created systems for disabled and mentally challenged individuals to be able to live in group homes and give their parents freedom while they made parts for Boeing Airlines and other mechanical systems with precision. These individuals worked good jobs, made excellent money and gave back to their community.
When he discovered his body was full of cancer he researched and did everything he could finally choosing hospice. He made me promise two things which were to take care of my mother and to understand what he called his farm cancer. I have completed those two tasks.
What I am remembering today is a life and an unexpected lesson taught. Unemployment is the same lesson as grief — — as mourning. Every day when you arise one needs to recognize the emotions and then make a choice of what they are going to do; sometimes the choice comes on an hourly basis. This is how you become the Einstein of yourself.
I have heard it said that the best remembrance of all is to say the name out loud of someone who’s gone. I have done a little storytelling with my name-calling here and I would like to ask you to write the names in the comment section of someone you would like to remember. I will gather up all the names and on Remembrance Day/ Memorial Day all 100 members of my International Prayer Group will say the names aloud.
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