Monday, May 4, 2009

Goodbye to The Colonel and the Lady

I usually try to be funny on these postings. With every other blogger weighing in on everything from politics to the economy, who needs another uninformed rant? But today I want to take a minute to honor a couple of people. There’s no humor here—sorry to disappoint.

It’s been a tough week for my wife who has lost her paternal grandmother and paternal grandfather within a week of each other. Homer and Betty Frailey were married nearly 30 years. They were divorced just as long. Every wedding and graduation in the family had the potential to be a tense affair—at least that’s what the rest of us thought—but these were classy people who appreciated what most of us often don’t realize: it was never about them. The events were about the people at the center of them.

Lt. Col. Homer Frailey, USAF (Ret.) was a hero. He served in not only WWII, but also Korea and Vietnam. As a friend of mine likes to say, you can only poke a snake so many times before you get bit. Grandpa put his life on the line in not one, but three wars—not police actions, not “conflicts,” but full blown wars—for us, for our liberty, for us to have the ability to live with a reasonable certainty of safety, for us to have the freedom to go to a park, a mall, a ballgame, or even to hold a protest sign against the very country he fought for. That’s what heroes do. But you’d never know it. He was as humble a man as you’d ever want to meet, even if his jokes were corny. He never expected accolades or congratulations for doing what he saw simply as his duty. Heroes never do.

Betty Frailey was a firecracker of a woman. She may have minced meat for a pie, but she never minced words. Grandma had a presence about her. She was no nonsense, direct, and suffered no fools, but she was also a loving, compassionate, pillar of strength. She liked confidence and if you had it, she loved you. She was a hero, too. After eschewing a career for herself to get transferred from one air base to the next in every part of the word, or worse yet, after having to stay behind to raise four hellion, er…rambunctious boys while her husband went to war, Betty discovered upon her divorce that she was not entitled to any of her ex-husband’s military benefits. She didn’t think that was fair, and though she never benefitted personally, she testified before the United States House of Representatives to help gain spousal benefits for those who followed her. She never told me that story. She never told me how good of a swimmer she was, or how she taught swimming to hundreds of kids. She never told me she was a lifetime volunteer with the American Red Cross. Why? Because she never made it about her.

It just wouldn’t be a blog of mine without some humor, so now that Grandma’s gone, maybe it’s okay to confess. After our wedding reception, with the bubbly still flowing, Grandma wanted to see what presents Myra and I got. She unwrapped every one. The problem was she separated the cards from the gifts. So if you got a very impersonal, “Thank you for our wedding gift. We always wanted one,” note from us, now you know why.

Colonel, thank you for a lifetime of service. Thank you for our freedom. Grandma, thank you for always making feel a part of your family. Thank you for always telling it like it is. We’ll miss you greatly. May God bless you both.


  1. A beautiful tribute Sammy and you certainly captured the essence of each. I loved them both and have wonderful memories, which will last a lifetime. My heart goes out to each and eveyone of is a very hard and sad thing to lose so much in such a short time.

    My love to all,
    Aunt Barbara

  2. Sam, your words leave no doubt about how much you loved and honored these two special people. Condolences to you, your wife...and all who loved the Colonel and the Lady...


  3. All well said, Sam. My condolences and hugs to your family. Sounds like people I would have been proud to know.