Father's Day is here. It's time to reflect and reminisce. My dad died of cancer in 1993. He was in his late 70's and had lived a pretty full life.
His own father had died of pneumonia when my dad was only 14. At that point he became the man of the house for his mother and 4 of his 5 siblings. He had to go to work, and work like a grownup in order to buy food for his family.
In the late 30's, he entered military service and was stationed in Alaska the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. Soon after, he shipped out and landed half way across the world. He saw England, Belgium and France through the eyes of a young man trying to stay alive when there were people looking to kill him.
He was in an engineering battalion that came in after the area had been deemed safe, and would then begin attempting to rebuild what had been ravaged by war. He didn't see any of the hand-to-hand combat that so many did, but he was close enough at one point that he ended up with shrapnel in his right knee and leg.
He came home after the war ended, met and married my mother, and began raising his family.
In his later years, while he was sick, and since his death, people who knew him when he was a young man have given us an insight to a man who took care of people. We were told about how he took up for the little kids at school. He didn't let the bullies on the school yard pick on the little kids.
His step sister made a trip from Alabama when she found out he was sick, and told about a trip to the Memphis Zoo when they were young. Several of the kids in the area had decided to make this trip. His step sister wanted to go, but her father didn't want her to. Being the oldest, he took responsibility for her and his youngest brother. They drove the 70 miles to the zoo in a flat bed truck. Can you imagine hauling a bunch of kids on an open truck?
Once they got to the zoo, and had walked around for a while, he needed to sit down and take off his shoes. They were new and were hurting his feet. As they sat resting, one of the monkeys(which were allowed to roam free back then) stole one of his shoes, and they had a terrible time getting it back.
I never felt close to my dad. I never felt any love or approval from him. He was quick to criticize and even quicker to punish. I never got the benefit of the doubt, regardless of how much I tried to persuade him. He always assumed the worst.
After we lost mother in 1969 to an automobile accident, he seemed to change. One thing was that if we had a relationship with him, she was not there to encourage or buffer it, whichever the case may have been.
He mellowed with age, and we became more like friends. I seldom went to him for advice. He was very good to my children. I saw him treat them like I would have loved to have been treated, but they didn't seem to be as much a disappointment to him as I thought I was. And my children have wonderful memories of him.
Finally, by my late 30's, I was much more close to him than I had ever been. I spent a lot of time with him near the end. I think we made peace in his own way, and that was fine. He was a good man in many ways. I hope he is in a better place.
Tell me a good memory of you father. I love to hear good father child stories.
Happy Father's Day!
Have a great Sunday. Do something silly. Make someone laugh.