My last blog post was in February of this year. 2018 has been a year that I am happy to leave behind. It has been full of changes and loss.
I have returned to the classroom after 15 years as a stay-at-home mom. I am teaching Social Studies at a fantastic school. to a bunch of sixth graders. They definitely keep me on my toes! I love my team and have made great friends, but I’d be lying if I said it has been easy.
My writing has been shoved into the corner and I have found it very difficult to find a healthy balance between family/school/writing. I am promising myself that 2019 will be different.
I promise dear readers, I have set a goal to begin with one post a month. I don’t know what that is going to be, but there will be something. Thank you for hanging in there with me!
Now to loss.
In February my father was diagnosed with kidney cancer and had his kidney removed. The doctors believed they got it all and he began chemo as a precaution. Chemo sucked! I watched an otherwise healthy man of 81, who was exercising at his local YMCA almost daily, become a feeble man who had a hard time getting out of a chair. He swore that if the cancer didn’t kill him, the chemo would.
But he pushed on and was determined to get past it and live the rest of his life as best he could.
Then in May, my family lost a dear friend, who was more like family, from lung cancer. Lois was an amazing woman who had a long career with the Veteran’s Administration at a time when there very few women in her position. She had a passion for animals and our church. She became Aunt Lois to my family and she blessed us immensely. We will miss her greatly.
In July, may dad got to “ring the bell” after his last chemo treatment. Still feeling weak, but thankful, his last PET scan came back clean. No more cancer.
We had a great August, he was regaining his strength, he even spent time out in his workshop building things.
Then September hit.
He began having pain in his side. Doctors thought it was his appendix, a hernia, even possibly an ulcer. No one thought to look for cancer.
His cancer had returned with an angry vengeance. I lost my dad on September 16.
I lost the first man to ever love me. The first man I ever loved. My hero. The man I wanted to be proud of me. The man who made history interesting and fun for me. The man who would pay me a quarter a page to write reports for him. The man who would spend hours with me researching our family history. The man who could fix anything.
The hardest thing I’ve ever done is to tell him that it was ok for him to stop fighting. It was time for him to rest. Thirty-five minutes after I told him I loved him, he joined my grandparents, and Lois.
The second hardest thing I’ve ever done is to write his obituary. You see, my dad was a published author. He wrote technical articles for various magazines, authored papers, and was working on his memoir. I promised him that I too would be published someday. I just didn’t think it would be this way.
So, as a tribute to my brilliant, always inquisitive dad, here is my first published work:
John Cover Bergmann, 81, of Alvin, Texas, passed away on Sunday, September 16, 2018. John was born in the early morning hours of December 9, 1936 in San Diego, California to United States Navy sailor , Commander John F. Bergmann and wife, Lillian R. Cover Bergmann.
His earliest memories were of his fifth birthday party when a next door neighbor ran in announcing that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. Within thirty minutes his father was on his way to the Pacific.
In 1952, the Navy moved the family to Japan where he attended high school at Eta Jima High School on the naval base. While in Japan, John and his other two classmates decided to paint a target on the schoolhouse roof as a senior prank. Until a ranking officer happened to fly over the school.
Upon returning stateside, John attended the Colorado School of Mines before entering the United States Navy. Sworn in by his father, Commander John Bergmann, John became a meteorologist flying in the nose of a P3V Orion. During the Cold War, he was stationed atop a secret mountain on Kodiak Island monitoring the air for radioactive fallout from Soviet nuclear tests.
After an honorable discharge from the Navy, John purchased a 1961 International Harvester Scout and set out for the canyons and deserts of the Southwest where he explored and camped with his German Shepard companion, King.
In 1963, answering an advertisement for overseas work, John found himself working on the development of a ballistic missile early warning system for RCA in Thule ,Greenland.
Returning back to the states in 1965, John headed for Alvin, Texas where he met the girl who would become his wife of 52 years, Joyce Marie Lukens. After knowing one another for three weeks, they eloped. That year, John also began his career at NASA Johnson Space Center working for Lockheed at the Manned Space Flight Center where he worked on the space vehicle motion simulator. While at NASA, John also worked on the Gemini and Apollo missions, as well as the Space Shuttle.
John is survived by his wife of 52 years, Joyce Marie Bergmann; his daughter, Julie Bergmann LaCombe; her husband, David; and granddaughters, Madeleine and Kaitlyn of Lubbock, Texas. He is survived by son, John S. Bergmann; Yola Lawson; granddaughters, Amarriea and Amaya; and grandson Jacob Bergmann of Friendswood, Texas.
I love you and miss you daily dad!