We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
JFK, Houston, September 12, 1962
Forty years ago we landed men on the moon. A culmination of a decade long goal. A goal established to advance science. A goal that was hard to achieve. A goal that seemed unimaginable. A goal made of dreams.
Today our generation lacks the commitment to repeat the same, lacks the stamina to plan and complete long tasks, lacks the wisdom to admit that there are problems that must be tackled today. Problems that can be solved while they are only hard, not impossible.
Last night while trying to get Hailey to go to sleep she told me to sing the bumblebee song. I told her I didn’t know what that was so I couldn’t sing it. Hailey decided to sing it to me. She started, I’m bringing home a baby bumblebee, and then stopped.
Your hands! My hands? Your hands, she said cupping hers together. Oh, I said, you want me to do my hands like yours? Yes, she started singing again, I’m bringing home a baby bumblebee, won’t my mommy be so proud of me.
She stopped, clapped, and said yeah. She looked at me and said, “Clap!” So I clapped and said yeah. We then repeated singing the bumblebee song for the next hour, or so it seems.
Hailey does everything herself these days. She will do something like get off the bed and you will offer to help her by saying, “Can I help you?” and she will reply back, “No, got it.” If Hailey gets stuck and needs a hand she will ask, “a little help?” or “Daddy, help you?”
She also has a heart melting way of saying hi. When you sit next to her she will say, “Hi, Hi Dadda.” But she doesn’t just use this heart-melting welcome on people. We also hear, “Hi, Hi Lu-lu”, “Hi, my Cookie Monster”, and “Hi, Hi ‘tasha.”
Hailey’s favorite movie is Finding Nemo. In the last month I bet I have watched it over 50 times. It’s the first thing she wants to see when she gets home from school. No other movie will do. When Mr. Ray sings the song about the zones she will start singing with him. When the child on Mr. Ray’s back goes, “Oh man.” She will say it out loud as well. She even screams when the fish scream right after the diver pops up behind Nemo.
St. Patrick’s day means Brianna and I have been married for four whole years. Longer than any pair of socks that she owns.
Remember _I Dream of Jeannie?_ Whenever Jeannie granted a wish she would nod her head up, then down. Then _poof_ Major Nelson would be in Tahiti or six inches tall and stuck inside Jeannie’s bottle.
Whenever Hailey wants something out of the pantry or refrigerator, she will say yes and then nod her head up and down in a very stiff motion. Each time she does this, I half expect the _poof_ and I am in Tahiti, or six inches tall and running from Natasha.
If it ever happens, we better hope for Tahiti. I don’t want to get eaten by Natasha.
The day before the funeral, I was conscribed into service as the scanner operator. I scanned a few family photographs for the picture montage. Using the wonders of a satellite internet connection, I copied them to the
dustyjones.com server so I could share them with you. With time, we may get them organized better.
Meredith wrote an obituary for Roscoe that occupied 1/6th of the obituary page in the paper.
> __Roscoe Ronald Conoley__
> __Jan. 17, 1925 – Nov. 22, 2004__
> Roscoe Conoley, age 79, died at his home Monday November 22 after an extended illness.
> Roscoe was born on January 17, 1925, in rural Milam County to Francis R. Conoley and Cordelia M. (Beard) Conoley. He was the fifth child of what would be six born to the Conoleys. At the time of his birth and until the last son was born, Roscoe was thought to be the late Conoley child and was nicknamed “Baby” by the family and this is how he would be known from then on.
> He was preceded in death by his parents, one sister Nell, two brothers Alexander (Alec) Hamilton and Eugene (Ken) Kenyon, and one son Ronald (Ronnie) Craig Conoley.
> He is survived by his wife of 57 years Gladys (Marie) Conoley, three children, son Francis (Frank) Michael Conoley, his wife Pat and daughter Shannon of Mulberry, Florida, daughter Sanna L. Conoley, her partner Elizabeth of Thorndale, Texas, her son Eric Burke and daughter Brianna (Burke) Jones of Austin, Texas, a son Meredith Conoley, his wife Lisa and daughters Jill and Amy of Round Rock, Texas.
> He is also survived by his brother, Rufus K. Conoley, his wife Nadine of Houston, and brother Ralph M. Conoley and his wife Helen of Silver Springs, Maryland. The legacy of Roscoe will live on through seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
> Born from the Great Depression in tough rural conditions, Roscoe was taught the early lessons of hard work, honesty, and determination by his parents and siblings. Though times were tough the family was fortunate to have a unique blend of toughness and good natured spirit to get through the hard times by building a treasure chest of stories work and play to share with the later generations.
> As a member of what would become “The Greatest Generation,” Roscoe headed the call of his counter in 1944 and joined the Allied troops in Europe as part of the 101st Cannon Company in France and Germany. Roscoe received the Purple Heart for wounds received during battle in France in 1945.
> After the war Roscoe returned to Texas and enrolled at The University of Texas in Austin where he graduated in 1950 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mathematics. It was during this time that he met his wife-to-be, Marie Young, on a blind date. This blind date carried on to marriage on August 30, 1947. The next 57 years were full of joy and challenges and passed all too fast.
> Roscoe and Marie returned to Thorndale in 1950 to be closer to Roscoe’s aging parents. Roscoe served as the Rural Letter Mail Carrier for the Thorndale area for 31 years. During this time he was also a bookkeeper of C.A. Forbes and Co.
> Roscoe believed in serving the community for the greater good. Never was this more demonstrated than in his efforts with other community leaders to lead the desegregation of the Thorndale school district that culminated in the building of a new High School Complex in 1966. This was a very difficult time for the Community but Roscoe worked with many others to bring this transition through in a peaceful manner not seen elsewhere. Thorndale ISD and the community at large became a model for others to follow.
> Upon retirement from the U.S. Postal Service in 1989 Roscoe continued his community involvement by accepting the position of City Manager for Thorndale. Following his belief that good health starts by taking care of “what comes in and goes out” he developed and administered projects to provide a modern sewage treatment facility for Thorndale and secured water rights and improvements to the water transportation network to ensure a long-lasting safe water supply. Roscoe retired from the City of Thorndale in 2000.
> Though Roscoe believed in hard work, and you would often find him behind a push mower taking care of his two acre yard, he equally enjoyed having fun and the company of friends and family. He leaves behind a tremendous volume of stories, anecdotes, and sayings that he shared with all who had the great fortune to know him. He loved spending his free time with friends, family, and especially his grandchildren. His local golfing group will sorely miss the times spent on the gold course followed by enjoying Roscoe’s favorite pastime – having a cold beer after a hot round of golf.
> The family would like to express their sincere and heartfelt thanks to everyone who stopped by, called, wrote letters, and provided so much comfort and love during this very difficult time. We would extend a special thank you to a group of incredibly caring and wonderful folks at Lone Star Hospice, especially Carol and Jan.
> A memorial service conducted by the Rev. Don Elrod will be held a Condar Funeral Home in Taylor, Texas at 2:00 p.m., Saturday November 27th, Honorary pallbearers, Ricky Melde, Floyd Zuehlke Jr., Robert Lindermann, Ted Westerman II, Wynn D. Scruggs, W. E. “Bill” Burke III, Joel Wilkerson. A celebration of Roscoe’s life will follow at the Thorndale Senior Center. In lieu of flowers, Roscoe requested donations to Thorndale Cares, Lone Start Hospice, or the charity of your choice.
The sky is gray, cold, damp, and wet. It has been raining for hours. The roads are flooded, the fields are muddy, and the tank is overflowing. We pulled up to the house and see the black hearse in the driveway. Inside two men strugle as they try to move Roscoe from the bed. Brianna rushes by to give him a kiss on the forehead and to tell him goodbye one last time. He is just two months shy of 80 years old.
Just [271 days ago], it was February and everything was going well. Hailey was learning to walk and was recovering from the respiratory problems she had in December and January. On the 25th we learned some very bad news. There was something in Roscoe’s lung. It could be Tuberculoses or a tumor. Roscoe, given the choice between Tuberculoses and lung cancer, hoped for lung cancer.
He was our emergency baby sitter. Whenever Hailey was sick and couldn’t go to daycare, we could make a call, at any hour, and Roscoe would be on his way. He had been watching Hailey and didn’t want to be responsible for giving his great granddaughter Tuberculoses.
Hailey didn’t get Tuberculoses. Roscoe didn’t have it to give it to her. He had lung cancer. Brianna took the news hard. I had to go and pick her up at work that day.
Roscoe was a very active man. He worked in his garden and mowed his enormous yard, with a traditional walk behind lawnmower, each week of the summer until this last one. I tried it only once. It was too much work for me. I had to use the tractor to be as efficient. As the cancer spread, he could no longer be active. He couldn’t pick up Hailey, he couldn’t stand, even sitting became painful.
Hailey loved this man. When she sees someone with gray hair she says papa. When she sees his house she screams papa and wants to go inside. I hope that as she grows older she remembers him and how much he cared for her.
The two men put Roscoe’s body onto the stretcher and push it out the front door. They are hampered as they try to get out the door. They struggle to get around the corner. Once outside, they fight with the muddy ground before finally getting into the hearse.
Godspeed Roscoe we love and will miss you.