Yesterday, November 16, would have been my Father’s 100th birthday. Instead, he passed at age 61.
There were so many life lessons he was unable to impart to me.
Calm reflection (he was an angry rage kind of guy); Moderation (he was an alcoholic and a compulsive overeater); Mechanical ability (I once saw him attempt to repair a leaky radiator hose with Scotch tape(!) I was a kid, and even I knew that wouldn’t work).
But I knew he loved me.
After all, when I was born prematurely (and my twin brother didn’t make it) he hurriedly ran to the nearest church to pray for my survival.
He tried to make me an athlete, as he had been. Alas, my developing a physical disability @ age 12 stopped those attempts in it’s tracks. And from that point forward, he was unclear how to relate to me.
I only saw him cry once. When he told me how proud he was of my graduating the Eighth Grade, and that I never asked him for money. To be fair, I didn’t know I was allowed to! When my Mother passed, he kept his grief private.
I’m certain his childhood was horrific. A stern father who had been a Marine and railroad policeman, and his having grown up poor during the Depression.
He had not been raised to be a hugger. I don’t remember him ever hugging me. A firm handshake was the order-of-the-day.
But, he did teach me a few important things. Loyalty (be true to your friends – he was to his); Honesty (your word IS your bond); and yes, Love.
He loved his wife (my mother) with all his heart. Watching her die @ age 41 of emphysema must have been horrible. (I was in the Second Grade, what did I know?) And in spite of the fact they were estranged, my (half)sister was his jewel. He was very protective of her, which probably in-part caused the estrangement. But she was another connection to his wife, which I don’t think she ever saw.
And he kept his heart disease hidden from me until it was too late.
He was flawed – he was human.
I love you and miss you, Dad. Happy Birthday!