Letter: Remembering my dad, Paul Farmer

May 19 marks the first year anniversary of the passing of my father, Paul R. Farmer. My dad was an amazing man and many people knew him in the close-knit community of Rappahannock County. At his funeral last summer, everyone heard about his lifelong career at the CIA, his work toward saving the environment with the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection and his passion for old radios.

For me, the name Paul R. Farmer was also synonymous with investor, backpacker, gardener, sailor, photographer and coin collector – and so many other accolades that I could write enough to fill the entire newspaper with Dad’s lifetime of accomplishments.

Amazingly enough, my dad’s most distinguished accomplishments were not the recognition he received for his environmental activism or the plaque for his service to the CIA. It was his ability to listen to people and truly accept others for who they are without judgment or criticism. It was his general love for other people and the interest in their lives that set my dad apart from the rest.

He had a very quiet way about him, but a powerful impact on the people who knew him. When I was growing up – and even as an adult – my dad would stop everything to listen to me, and came to my rescue many times. In the middle of the night, when my oldest was born, my dad was there. When I bought my first car, and could not drive it off the dealer’s lot because I could not work the stick shift, my dad played hooky from work to spend the day teaching me the ins and outs of a manual transmission. There were so many more times when my dad was just willing to stop everything and help.

It was my dad’s dedication to being a father that made me believe the best job I have ever had was staying home and raising my children. He taught me a lot of life’s lessons and the most important lesson was to never back down from a difficult situation. Everyone faces challenges in their lifetime and my dad faced brain cancer head on.

When I got the phone call that something was wrong with my dad, I took the next flight out from Tulsa to be there. When he saw my face in the hospital room after midnight for the first time, he knew that he was going to have to fight with all the strength of a warrior. He could see the unspoken words written all over my face: I need your love and support here in my life; please give me the time to say goodbye.

And that’s just what my dad did. I am the luckiest girl in the world because my dad loved and supported me throughout my lifetime. I called him every day until his time on Earth came to an end, and made many visits alone and with my kids to see him. I supported my dad and encouraged him in his fight the whole way through, just like he had done for me all my life.

Take a lesson from me: When that irreplaceable person in your life goes to battle for their life,  remember to take a stand with them, and become the champion in their life. Everyone needs a hero like that. No daughter could be more proud of her dad than I am.

Love you, Dad.

Cathleen Bise
Tulsa, Okla.

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