guest blog by Nila Ridings
It’s with deep emotions and a heavy heart that I write this blog about D-Day.
On that beach, dressed in the United States Army military fatigues with a rifle and a helmet was the man that ten years later would become the most influential person in my life. He was six feet tall, slender, beautiful blue eyes, thick dark brown hair with a wave on the side, a grin that melted everybody’s heart, and a sense of humor that could turn the toughest situations into one that made me laugh. Mom’s girlfriends said he was so dreamy looking he could have been a movie star. By the grace of God, I was one of three lucky girls that got to call him Dad.
He wasn’t a war hero, he was my hero. From my earliest memories in life, he was always my best friend. He was a very successful businessman, but first and foremost he was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, uncle, friend, and employer. He never missed my dance recitals, or a chance to make latrines for my Girl Scout camp. He was at every event I was a part of in school even when he was sitting in the freezing cold on concrete bleachers while I was cheering for our team until I lost my voice. He taught me about life, people, money management, construction, honesty, integrity, motivation, ambition, problem-solving, decision-making, project management, and taking good care of customers. He lived by his motto of “Work hard and play hard but never do too much of either one!”
We went to air shows and boat shows, car races and rodeos, the circus and ice skating performances. We went to Disneyland and Fairy Land, and coast to coast in the family station wagon. We ate well and lived comfortably in a beautiful HOA-FREE neighborhood. We had nice cars, boats, clothes, and a vacation home.
I’ve been extremely fortunate. And, my Dad told me to never buy a home with an HOA. I didn’t listen to his advice and I’ve paid the price. I fight every day to educate others about the horrors of HOAs and try to protect them from this misery. My Dad is my driving force, the wind beneath my wings, and the angel on my shoulder. He knew this HOA battle would grow ugly and brutal and I fight it to honor him.
He fought for our country to protect our freedoms from being destroyed by our enemies. When WWII was over, he returned to Kansas and never shared a word about what he saw on June 6, 1944. I just always knew we would take no vacations where we slept in a tent or away from American soil. And rice was never served on our dinner table. I did not know where my Dad was on D-Day until after both of my parents were gone and a family friend told me. I cried for hours.
Many men lost their lives. Wives lost their husbands, children lost their dads, mothers and fathers lost their sons, and brothers and sisters lost their brothers, and families lost loved ones seventy years ago on this fateful day. May we pause to remember each of them. And, pray that the citizens of our country and especially those of us in HOAs will recognize they did not make the ultimate sacrifice so we could turn against and battle each other on American soil today.
Beyond words…I love you and miss you, Dad.
Thank you for your service to our great country.
Elmer L. Ridings, 1922-1988