There is nothing else like it—the special bond between fathers and sons. For some, it’s agony, tearing them apart. For some, it’s the closest they’ll ever be to another human. For many of us, it’s both.
Ernest E. Scott, Jr.
1923 – 2012
What can you say about a guy who gave you your start in life—who was there for you through the terrors and trauma of childhood, sharing its joys and laughter, guiding you, doing his best to keep you on the right path? While our relationship was strained during my teenage years, when I finally wised up, he turned out to be the best friend I ever had. He was always there for me.
An Everyman’s Hero
Ernie was one helluva guy. Mechanically/electrically inclined, he could fix anything, as any of his friends would tell you. Active and interested in life, caring and adventurous, he set an excellent example. He used to fly a WWII Trainer to L.A. on his days off to date my mother. When he married her, just after WWII, he took her to Kingman Arizona and called it home.
He bought a couple of abandoned Army barracks, moved them to a lot he bought for fifty bucks, and by hand, transformed them into our home. He ran his own business, working many evenings and weekends to make ends meet. Yet he made time for his family, friends and hobbies. Active with several community groups, I best remember him for his contribution to the Boy Scouts.
My dad built his own dark room in the basement to develop his photos—a skillful and creative photographer (and later, videographer) most of his life. He took up astronomy, put together a six-inch reflecting telescope, grinding the mirrors by hand. And then to my amazement and delight, showed me the craters of the Moon and the rings around Saturn.
Ernie took us camping and fishing, exploring the desert, mountains and lakes along the Colorado River basin, taking us off-road in his Ford station-wagon. He bought a boat and outboard motor, taught us how to water ski and ran whitewater rapids in the depths of the Grand Canyon. In his spare time he polished stones and hand-crafted gold and silver jewelry.
My father, my brother and I took up Scuba diving in the early 1970s—my father, the first of us to earn his Scuba instructor’s certification. Ernie dove with research groups across the globe, taking pictures of underwater worlds in Mexico, Hawaii, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Paula, Belize, throughout the Caribbean and even the Red Sea. He hand-built his first underwater housing for his video camera and became a prolific underwater videographer.
He was active and full of life well into his 80s. In his early 70s at the time, we left the shores of Costa Rica and steamed out into the vastness of the Pacific until a jungle island emerged from the mist. Anchoring off Cocos Island, he and I spent several days diving with schools of hammerheads and white-tip reef sharks—strong currents, sweeping us into their midst. We got it all on video tape, and it took everything I had to keep up with him.
His last few years were misery. But in his usual style, he gritted his teeth, rarely complaining, fighting it all the way to the end. It was tough to watch him go.
He is survived by his wife, two sons and a handful of grandchildren.
Though a small gesture, I’ve dedicated my first published novel to him. I know he’d be proud.
Only one thing left to say: Until we meet again . . .
My mom was loud, obnoxious, opinionated, and wanted everything her way. I hated that as a teenager. After I moved to CA I realized that not only was she all of the above, but she loved us with every fiber of her being. She listened to me cry and gave me comfort and encouragement when I felt I was on the edge of failure. She taught me that I have to guide my own life and not rely on someone to do it for me.
She fought Pancreatic cancer for almost 2 years. She even worked until 2 months before for she passed. Stubborn and pig headed had nothing on my mom. Her last words to me were “Be strong baby girl, be strong!” I hope I can be as strong as she was. I miss my best friend.
[…] I recently revisited the piece I wrote shortly after his death. In case you missed it, it’s titled Fathers & Sons . . . Endings & Beginnings. […]