A man may by custom fortify himself against pain, shame, and suchlike accidents; but as to death, we can experience it but once, and are all apprentices when we come to it.
My father was born in 1923 in Babylon, NY.
He survived the Great Depression. An enormous tree blew over next to him as he walked home through The Great Hurricane of 1938; he walked away without a scratch. The glider born infantry took him to the China-Burma-India theater in WWII.
Shrapnel chipped a tooth, but he survived that too. After the war he went to Alaska.
He single-handedly built a one-room cabin on a ¼ acre plot in Fairbanks. (I think I remember seeing once a photo showing the scaffolding he built to get the roof beam in place.) He worked for the Fish and Wildlife Service in the summers.
He used to practice orienteering by walking into the Alaskan wilderness on a compass bearing and then walking back out again. On one occasion he stumbled across a downed single-engine plane containing the skeleton of its pilot. His boss laughed when my dad offered to lead a team back to the crash, assuring him that he'd never find it again. Dad's boss was right. There is a lot of wilderness out there.
On another occasion, my dad shot a caribou only to discover as he prepared to dress it that he'd left his knife back in the jeep. Leaning his rifle against a tree, he walked back and got his knife. An enormous brown bear greeted his return by standing on its hind legs and roaring. The bear got the caribou. And the rifle. And the knife, dropped during a hasty retreat.
That wasn't the only caribou that nearly got him killed; on another occasion, one attempted, unsuccessfully, to jump over his jeep. He woke on the side of the road with a caribou hoof protruding into the cab and a nasty gash on his head.
I'm lucky to be here.
When my dad left Alaska, he gave the keys to his cabin to a friend. Those keys passed from friend to friend for more than twenty years. In the eighties, the current occupant persuaded my dad to let him buy the cabin. My father signed the deed and mailed it, asking the occupant to please mail the check back. The check came back a couple of weeks later. And it cleared. Luck of the Irish, or something.
From Alaska, my dad traveled to Australia. My mom and dad met in Tasmania. They married in 1961.
I came along a few years later.
I remember my dad singing sea shanties when I was a small boy.
Dad was a naturalist, hunter, trapper, fisherman, scientist, teacher, draftsman, and surveyor. He made beautiful wood carvings. He tied knots. At one time or another, all of them. I have his leather working tools. The old sewing machine on which he made sleeping bags, tents, parkas, rain slickers, and bicycle paniers got lost somewhere along the way. He built two boats.
After 86 years, entropy won. Entropy always wins. My dad taught me that. And the first and third laws as well.
My father died in 2009 in Norwich, England.