By David Stevens
William Creech died March 15, 2012. Clovis’ Connie Belcher has been thinking a lot about her dad lately.
She tells about their relationship better than I ever could.
“I am an Air Force brat and grew up on military bases around the country,” she wrote in an email.
“We settled in Clovis during my junior high school years. I went to Gattis Junior High, then Clovis High, and graduated in 1973.
“During those years I couldn’t stand my dad.
“He was military through and through. He was a cocky fighter pilot, demanded the respect a military officer should have, and I hated it.
“I was a ‘hippy,’ very cool, and thought I knew more than he did.
“The Vietnam conflict had just ended. My father spent a year in Phan Rang, flying F-4 fighter jets during the war, and I resented him for it. I thought the war was wrong, and he was a part of the ‘establishment’ that I so resented.”
Belcher said she left Clovis after high school and went in search of “life as I thought it should be.”
She said she moved around, worked a few miserable jobs and got married and divorced, “more than once.”
Ultimately, she returned to eastern New Mexico, earned a nursing degree, and got to know her dad.
“Over the years we became close,” she wrote.
“All the things about him that used to bother me, I began to understand.
“He was patriotic and loved this country. He didn’t always agree with what those in charge thought we should be doing, but he ultimately respected the decisions being made in Washington. He said that the president was his boss, and, while he might not agree with the politics of the day, when the boss gave an order, it was to be followed, and not questioned.
“I learned so much from him and always knew that he was there for me. Despite our differences over the years, I think we grew more close than any of my other siblings did.
“Because I was a nurse, I was able to answer his health questions and assist him and my mother through all the healthcare mazes that had arisen for them.
“My mother, his partner and soul mate, developed Alzheimer’s disease and didn’t really recognize any of us. He was devastated by the fact that they weren’t living their ‘golden years’ like they had planned.
“During those years we talked almost every day. We would gently argue about politics because we were polar-opposites when it came to how we thought this country should be run.
“He would give me advice about managing my life and I would give him suggestions about how to deal with my mother.
“He was brilliant and could talk about anything.
“He died at home, in his own bed, and I was at his side. He wasn’t able to communicate with me, but I know that he knew I was there.
“I remember being so rebellious during my teens and 20s, and telling my dad how stupid I thought he was and how misguided our country was.
“Now, as a woman with her 60th birthday just around the corner, I understand my father’s commitment to our country and to our family.
“I am extremely proud of my father and his service to the United States. I have become that same patriotic citizen, who gets chills watching a beautiful fighter jet soar through the sky or hearing the National Anthem sung during a football game.
“My father made me appreciate the wonderful freedoms we have.
“I miss my dad. My best friend is gone. But his memory will be with me always.”
David Stevens is editor for the Portales News-Tribune. Contact him at: