Charles “Chuck” Emery Dixon, born on February 20, 1935, passed comfortably on May 4, 2018.
A man we called Dad.
As we all sit here, there’s an interesting tidbit I want to point out to you. Gaze across the cemetery and you will see the very road that took dad, to and from, his job at Motorola for 27 years.
More than just a point of interest, it is something, surprisingly, quite meaningful.
For those 27 years, Dad drove two pick-ups, a Volkswagen bug, a van and a Camry down that road. You know Dad and you know he was never a minute late…well, he did lose his keys every single morning but I still have no doubt he managed to be right on time.
He would grab his shiny black briefcase, put on his suit and tie, tuck his wallet in his suit jacket and, very importantly, brush his hair into that magnificent swoop that he had to the very end.
Dad was one handsome devil.
As a child, I would watch all this unfold and can still see, in my mind’s eye, all of this so vividly. Particularly as he scrunched up his face while splashing on Aqua Velva…it was a routine he had down to a science.
But dig down deeper still and you find more.
The routine, the dedication…it was a reflection of his values. For those 27 years, certainly drudgery and bad days found him, as they do us all.
Now, with the benefit of reflection, my guess is he did it for two reasons.
First, because that is what you did. You contributed to society. You were responsible to your employer. YOU SHOWED UP.
But, much more so, he did it for us. For each of us sitting here, we all benefited greatly from his dedication, even when we didn’t realize it. Being the quiet sort, Dad led by example.
Please think of this, right now, in this sacred moment we are sharing together. Dad showed his love largely through providing a beautiful, stable life for you.
In time of need, I knew he would be there. Call it what you will…a rock, an anchor, whatever analogy works. What you needed, he provided.
That is the love of a generous heart, the greatest of all loves. It can’t ever be repaid but it can be lived on.
Near the end, I thought of Dad so often and wondered if he knew how my heart swelled with ridiculous amounts of pride when I thought of him. Not just for his dedication but, let’s face it, he was a brilliant man and has left an amazing legacy outside of his family, too.
Among the many of his awards, he was the recipient of the prestigious Dan Noble award, he worked on the Moon Buggy, he participated on a space shuttle payload mission that he, along with mom, got to see blast into space. Certainly one of the most memorable days of his life.
But I’m not done!
He worked on the communication device of a plane you may have heard of, Air Force One, he was a liaison for the Engineering college students, he helped design the black box that is used to this day, in planes we all go on. I could go on and on but we will be here all day.
The dad I knew never bragged or even hinted at any of this. How I wish he had! I would have spent my childhood, my teen years, my adulthood, my middle-age, my old age, bragging for him! Dad was the kind of dad you bragged about. Tall, handsome, brilliant, humble. What can I possibly add to that…
Maybe I can end with a personal story. While I struggled in my turbulent teen years, dad took me to the Dixon’s favorite vacation spot. San Diego. It was just him and me.
Dad, the quiet Engineer.
Me, the awkward teen.
But the vacation was what I needed. I needed to get away from being a teen, if you will, and just be a kid with her dad again.
We visited all the familiar tourist sites, including the San Diego Zoo. As we walked the sprawling grounds, he suggested we take the sky ride that went from one end of the enormous zoo to the other. A very HIGH sky ride.
Did I want to go on it, he asked.
Of course not! A fan of heights, I am not.
Oddly, though, I knew he was no fan of heights either. So I asked the obvious…
Pointing high up into the heavens at this ride, I said, “Dad. Why would we go on that?”
Without missing a beat, he replied, “To say we did.”
Well, naturally! So we hesitantly boarded this boxy, shaky terrifying sky ride, both of us gripping the bar in the middle for the duration of the ride, not once daring to look down. Or up. Or sideways. Just Dad, me and a bar.
We passed other riders who were lounging, oh-so-comfortably, in their own rides. They offered friendly waves at us. We offered polite, very tight, smiles in return. They would not be getting a wave. We were too busy keeping the sky ride attached to the wires above us. Kelly, who helps pilots fly planes from her passenger seat, will understand this.
*Voyager mission most proud add
After the world’s longest ride, we got off. Right now, as I speak, I can still feel the euphoria of having survived the San Diego Zoo Sky Ride.
Safe on ground, I turned to him.
Dad, I said, we did it.
I’ll always remember the smile and pat on the back I received in return. Secretly, big, brave dad was, I suspect, just as grateful as I was to have survived.
And so that was dad.
A life lived solidly from his values, dedicated fully to his family, friends and work. A long life, one marked with enormous courage and humility.
What a good and decent man, Charles Emery Dixon, was.
What a blessing we got to call him dad.
In a lifetime, it is often said the days are long and the years are short.
I hope I can live my remaining days in a way that will make him proud. I can’t ever repay him, none of us can.
But, just as he did his very best driving down that road behind us, I can drive down my own road of life, carrying him in my heart with gratitude and pride.
Thank you, Dad, you are forever loved.