William March Jr. served in the U.S. military for 26 years, and spent two tours in Vietnam. Later in life he became a circus clown and took his son Paul and the rest of his family around the country performing on the road. They have a close relationship. Paul March was thinking about their relationship when he asked his dad about the saddest moment in his life.
“I think probably the saddest moment of my life, was when my dad passed away,” said William, “because he and I were very, very close and his passing was of his own choosing, which was by no means expected. And I think that’s probably the worst day of my life.”
“That’s a really bad day for me,” said Paul. “As you know I was close with my grandfather. The night before his passing he had invited us to his house. We only lived a mile away, maybe. We went over and visited. I remember when we were leaving, he pulled me aside.
"At that point my grandfather had had a couple of heart attacks and a couple of strokes. Of course, we all know with strokes your mobility’s not there, he had trouble buttoning his shirt at that point. He pulled me aside and said, ‘Grandpa looks really bad, doesn’t he?’ And of course I told him, ‘no, you look fine, you’re getting better. You’re getting better all the time.’ And he goes, ‘ I just want you to always know that your Grandpa loves you.’ And we left and that next morning, is when he passed. It was a sad day for the family.
“If this was our last conversation,” said Paul, “and clearly I hope it’s not, if this was our last conversation though, what words of wisdom would you want to pass on to me?”
“I would like to be remembered for one thing, for dealing with life through humor because I think life can sometimes be too hard. I chose to deal with things through humor. Enjoy life for every day that you’re here. I would also like to be remembered as loving my family and my country and the fact that I would lay my life down for either, if it needed me.”
“What are your hopes for me as your son? ”
“A long and prosperous life. A happy life.”
“I would like that as well,” said Paul. “Do you feel like you’ve had that?”
“Oh absolutely. I feel in a lot of respects, I’m the luckiest man on the earth. I’ve had a great life. If I died tomorrow, I’ve had a very full life, I’ve done many many things that most people would even dream of doing.”
“I love you very much.”
“I think it goes without saying that I love you very much.”
William March Jr. and his son Paul recorded their conversation at the mobile Storycorps recording booth in Boise this summer. That traveling trailer is part of Storycorps which is a national initiative to record and collect stories of everyday people.
Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio