“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know dear how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away.”

This was one of my dad's favorite songs. Dad would come in the door after work, grab my mom, with one of his big loving hugs, and dance with her, while singing, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine . . .”

It was less than a month ago, when I was taking the Amtrak train home after visiting the Idaho and Utah kids. It is rare to have cell phone coverage across the Rockies.

Then, all of a sudden the phone rang. The call came from my parents' house.

I missed the call, so I immediately called home. My brother Thad answered and whispered, “Diane, he's gone.”

My father had passed away.

At the exact moment, when Thad whispered “gone,” the call dropped.

I was trapped on a train, with no cell coverage, after receiving the worst possible news.

We never think this will happen to us, do we?

It had been almost 10 years since, a similar call came from Thad. It was July 2004. I called to talk to mom about the birth of my first grandchild.

Thad immediately called back and whispered, “Diane, dad had a bad stroke and is in intensive care. They don't expect him to live through the night.”

The train whistle woke me from the memories of Dad's stroke. I heard the conductor announce we were pulling into Winter Park.

What was I supposed to do, trapped on a train, with such sadness in my heart, unable to call my children, siblings or mom?

What was occurring at that moment in my Mulberry Street living room? Was Hospice there? How was my mom handling the news? Did my father struggle during his last hour?

I was anxious and sad and didn't know what to do.

My thoughts took me to my daddy and I could hear him singing, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are gray . .”

As the train left the station, I looked out the window. I could feel my dad close by. It was a peaceful, wonderful feeling. I knew that I would see him again.

I had another 28 hours on the train until I reached Missouri. Then I would have to get to Pennsylvania as fast as possible.

Therefore, perhaps as therapy, I decided to write some of my father's life story.

Harold was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. He was deeply loved by his family and will be greatly missed by all.

Surviving besides his wife are 6 children, Laura, Judith, Diane, Deborah, Melinda and Harold Thaddeus; 28 grandchildren; 49 great grandchildren; and a sister, Virginia.

He and his wife, Dorothy, celebrated 67 years of marriage this past August. He attended High School where he was an exceptional wrestler and then was called into the U.S. Army during WWII, serving as a Private with the Field Artillery Battalion.

Following his military service, he owned and operated his own business, Independent Music Company. He had a great passion for music and could play both the piano and accordion. Following his retirement from the music business, he worked for both the County Courthouse and R R Pharmacy.

My daddy, how will I ever live without him?

(part 2 next week)

Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at jacksoncountyfamilyweek@yahoo.com  or visit www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org .