Eight years ago, on a warm and humid August day, my father Isaac Walter Tipton, Sr. (18 Apr 1920 - 22 Aug 2000), passed away in the early morning hours at the Brandywine Hospital in Coatesville, PA. My sister-in-law Barbara Tipton was with him. She recalled him struggling to breath. She held his hand and prayed out loud with him. She met her husband, my brother John, in the hallway and told him his dad had died. John went into his room and was with his him for a few minutes then he called me. "Pop", as we called him, had entered the hospital two weeks previously suffering from lung cancer. He was the fifth child of eleven children (all male) of Fieldon Jacob Tipton, Sr. (04 Jun 1884 - 08 May 1939) and Hester Lewis Tipton (30 Nov 1892 - 20 Apr 1945), my grandparents. I received the news of his death as I was entering the offices of First Financial Bank in Downingtown, PA where I worked. As I unlocked the front door to the offices, I heard the loud ring of the phone demanding that I answer it. I knew instinctively that this was the phone call I had been expecting. Pop had been in declining health since his open heart surgery on November 9, 1999 (my birthday). He was never the same after that operation. Almost always in pain, he found it difficult to even walk to his vegetable garden located in the back of his three acre property located in East Brandywine Township. Frequently, he would have to stop and regain his breath until he could continue the short walk to his beloved garden. Our family moved to this property in 1958, the first land that he ever owned. Prior to 1958, our family had lived in a series of apartments. However, Pop always found a way to borrow some land to plant his vegetable garden (corn, peppers, and tomatoes). For many years to was a small parcel of land next to the Gindy Trailer Manufacturing plant just outside of Downingtown, PA. He always planted more corn than we could possibly eat. He would sell some of it but mostly, he gave it away. He would rope me and my two brothers into weeding all that corn. Oh how I used to hate that interruption to my summertime activities. Looking back on it, I now appreciate that we were required to be responsible for weeding our six rows of corn a day. This was good work discipline that was instilled in us that was beneficial to me and my brothers when we grew up and had jobs of our own. In all his adult years, my father never failed to have his garden. He loved gardening. As sick as he was in the last year of his life, he would force himself up to his garden every day. He loved to see small seedlings grow into magnificent plants. This is one attribute that I have inherited from him, a love of gardening. I may not have inherited his love of hunting or his carpentry skills, but we both had a love of seeing things grow. Ironically, neither of my brothers inherited this love of growing things from their father. However, they did inherit his natural talent for carpentry. I didn't inherit that talent. Each summer, with the long warm days, and when I see corn growing in the fields (as I do in the land adjacent to my property here in Delaware), I am reminded of my father. "Pop." Of course we had our moments. What son doesn't have his "moments" with his father? But in the end, when my brother John told me on the phone "Pop died early this morning", I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. This giant of a man who personality dominated so much of my life was gone. It was hard for me to believe that he was no longer on this earth. As I drove home in the warm sun of that August morning to inform my Mother and brother Isaac, Jr. that "Pop" had died, I felt like I was having an out of the body experience. I literally had the air taken out of me. I had difficulty catching my breath. As I entered the door to the kitchen of the small ranch house that my parents had lived in for over fifty years, I saw my Mother. She knew what I was going to tell her. I would tell her that her husband of sixty years, the only man she had ever known, was no longer part of her life. My brother Isaac knew. This life force that other members of the family knew as "Ike", and that we knew as "Pop", was no longer with us. For the first time in our lives, we would have to go on without Pop. Even now, almost eight years after his passing, I still feel his presence. With the warm weather of summer, I will always think of Pop and his garden. That garden that he faithfully tilled for over fifty years is now covered in weeds. The birds have free reign to pick where they may. Pop is not there to guard his garden from marauding black birds who would swoop down and pick up his hand planted corn seed. Pop's bee bee gun is long gone. If there is a heaven, Pop is up there now with his brother Ed (Tipton 10 Sep 1914 - 24 Jul 1998) and they are continuing their friendly rivalry to see who has the first and biggest tomato and sweetest corn. My uncle Ed died at his home during the day, surrounded by his family, with his hospital bed was positioned so he could see his beloved garden before he passed away. Pop died in the early morning hours in a hospital bed with only his granddaughter Dawn Armstrong by his side. He died before he could harvest his final crop of corn. He is up in Heaven now with his ten brothers - Ray, Henry, Ed, Erby, Dude, Rich, John, Bruce, Sam and, yes, Tip (Fieldon Jacob Tipton, Jr.) I have no doubt that his tomatoes are the biggest and the corn the sweetest ever now. We all miss you Pop! We will see you soon.