Thursday, February 2, 2012

My father - NaBloPoMo 2

Prompt 2:  Tell us about your father.

My father is Jon.  He has a very strong personality, and plenty of opinions, and while he is stubborn as hell, I have also known him to change his opinions on many things over the years and give him a lot of credit for that.  Dad will be 76 this year.  He is entirely sick of upper Midwestern winters and would prefer to be at their home in Tucson from October until May, but we stubbornly force him to stick around until November and are begging for him to bring Mom home by Easter. 

My Dad had a rough childhood and I think there was not a lot of nurturing from his parents but plenty of corporal punishments.  He spent 2 years in the Army (stationed in a pineapple field in Hawaii) but he won't talk about it at all and told me over Christmas that he had no photos from Hawaii as he had long ago burned them all.  I have no idea what that's about.  He then went to college and met my mother.  He proposed to her nearly immediately but she wouldn't agree to be engaged for over a year after he first asked her.  I used to think the high school and college photos of my Dad looked like "young Elvis" and I have no doubt he was charming and funny and sweet. 

He and my mom both had education degrees but Dad didn't manage too well in the school system.  He lasted a few years and then switched over to sales.  He did quite well in the booming farm industy days of the 1970s but then took a stab at self-employment which ended badly.  Now, looking back, I can't imagine how my Dad got through those years when we were economically devastated.  He tried a variety of jobs, including some that he hated, to put food on the table.  But I can't recall ever worrying or even knowing that things were as bad as I know now that they must have been.  Thankfully, in his 50s, he landed a job that allowed him to make up a lot of financial ground so that he and Mom could retire and I have been so grateful for that. 

I'm not too surprised, given all that I realize now, that my Dad was very erratic at times in my life.  I have my suspicions about the cause(s) of that, but for all that he did a lot of emotional damage, one thing that I always knew and never doubted was was that he loved my Mom and he loved me and my brother and my sister.  Unconditionally and without fail. 

Last week I wrote a post about a car accident I was in back in 1985...crazily enough, I was home on Christmas break from school and we got to talking about things that were important (like your child's health and well being) and I remember saying to my Dad "are you telling me, that if I smashed up your car, all you'd care about was that I was OK?" and not really believing his assurance that he woudn't give a goddamn about the car.  Well, fast forward about one month and I did, in fact, smash up his car, and had to call him from some stranger's house, crying I said 'DDDDDad, I ssss-sss-smashed the car..." and he said "Are you OK?" and "where are you?" and "we're on our way".  On our way home that night, he reminded me of our conversation over Christmas and said "couldn't you have just taken my word for it?"  Makes me tear up a little, just thinking about that.

Dad has one bad retina, so has only limited vision in that eye.  About five years ago that he had macular degeneration in his good eye.  We were all terrified because my Dad without the independence of his driving abilities etc. is really really scary.  His opthalmologist started giving him SHOTS IN HIS EYEBALL a few times a year, and I'll be damned if it doesn't keep the disease at bay!  It is a freakin' miracle. 

For all our relationship has had its ups and downs, and for all that we both have a myriad of shortcomings that cause some friction at times, I love my Dad.


  1. I hate to say it because it sounds ungrateful but my dad also left a lot of emotional damage in his wake. He was generous and good person but he only knew emotional distance growing up and I think he had a tough time with anything but providing for his family and taking care of them. He didn't mean to damage people. He didn't know that he was doing that. He didn't have the tools to be a close parent. I am fortunate to have learned a great deal , both from being observant in my family (noting what worked and what didn't) and for being interested enough and able to develop professional knowledge and skills. I don't think I repeated my father's mistakes but I am confident that I made new ones of my own.

  2. I like that you thought your dad looked like a young Elvis. I thought my dad was the inspiration for the original Brawny paper towel guy! This is a lovely tribute to your dad. Thanks for posting!

  3. You do find out a lot about a person, when hard times hit. I loved the anecdote about the accident. I have been mulling over the series of tributes to fathers, beginning with JT's last October. My father is always with me, but so far, has resisted my invitation to emerge on the monitor of Terra Jean. Whatcha gonna do?


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