How do I write this goodbye for my Father, my best friend, my advocate for over 50 years? How do you sum up the life of a person in a few words and phrases? No tribute will adequately honor my Dad and the sacrifices he made his entire life, which was cut way too short from a massive heart attack.
Brian Evan Garman was born in Oxnard California in 1943. I don’t know much about his childhood, but I do know he was the life of the party and kind to everyone. He traveled easily among different groups. He nurtured those in need, from people to animals. That kind spirit would remain his entire life.
My Dad was a proud and incredibly distinguished Vietnam Veteran. In 1966 he enlisted in the Army as a helicopter pilot. He flew many missions and was shot down many times. The suffering he witnessed and endured made it impossible for him to talk about his experiences. I can only piece together some amazing accomplishments. Because of his valor, he was awarded 22 Airman’s Medals during his tenure. He flew Huey Helicopters and, I later learned, Heavy Chinook Helicopters for rescue missions. He was a humble man who saved many lives before his honorable discharge as Chief Warrant Officer 2 in 1970. More than any medals or awards, he was proudest of the nickname given to him by his platoon, “Happy Garman.” They gifted him an engraved silver lighter with that moniker. It is now with him.
Because of his missions in Vietnam, he was exposed to Agent Orange. Physically, he suffered greatly throughout his life as a result. But that did not prevent him from living life to the fullest. And for my Dad, his best life started when he met my beautiful Mom! She was a widowed single mother raising my brother and me. Sadly, due to complications, she could not have more biological children. Despite her circumstance, my Dad fell hopelessly in love with her and took on the responsibilities of two young kids. My Dad NEVER made a distinction that we were not his biological children. He loved my Mom more than anything in this world.
That unwavering devotion lasted 50 years. Their 50th Anniversary would have been November 6, 2020. And the nurturing skills he honed as a child were tenderly put to use when my Mom developed dementia. My Dad was her primary caregiver and did everything possible to make her feel safe, loved and beautiful, even when she no longer recognized him. They were each other’s world – one heart, one soul, one life.
A few other fun facts about my Dad. He never met a stray animal he didn’t adopt or care for! That included feral cats, racoons, deer, voles and even a family of skunks! It was his lifelong mission to care for those that couldn’t always care for themselves.
He also loved fast cars, motorcycles, Glenfiddich Scotch, surfing, sunsets and the California coast he grew up around.
I have no words to describe how much I will miss him. I find some comfort knowing he is now free and untethered of life’s burdens. In my mind, he is riding down Pacific Coast Highway in his ’65 Silver Blue Corvette. He is young and happy. He is waiting for my Mom to hop in the passenger seat and be young and happy with him…forever.
Dad, You are Loved.
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