Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My Dad

Me and my Dad:

My Dad was born in 1923. His Dad was a farmer, and his Mom was the Postmistress (do they use that word anymore?) of their small community, and they made it through the Depression ok. He had one brother and two sisters.

At the age of 18, Dad married my Mom, who was 17 at the time (can we say "shotgun wedding", anyone?). He worked for a couple of local companies, then started his own business, and ended up a successful man. He did all this with only a high school diploma.

Dad served in the Merchant Marine and then in the Navy during World War II. He volunteered for the service right after he and Mom were married, and she was pregnant with my brother. My Mom's family was furious, convinced that he had signed up so that he could get out of the marriage. Dad was never sent overseas. He spent most of his service stationed around the Great Lakes area, and returned to Mom when his service was over. They were married for 58 years, until he died.

My Dad always wanted sons. And when his firstborn was a boy, he was elated. Then came a girl. Then another girl, and another, and another. Then, finally, me (also a girl). Legend has it, that when Mom went into labor with me, Dad took her to the hospital, then came home later that night, walked in the door, said, "It's another girl, dammit!", and went upstairs to bed.

Nonetheless, Dad treated all of us girls (and his son, of course), fairly. He was a pretty stern guy, which I did not come to appreciate until later in life, when I learned that sometimes it helps to have a backbone. I do remember one time when I was very small. I was terrified of thunderstorms, and on one particularly stormy evening was pitching a pint-sized fit. Dad took me out to the covered stoop behind the garage, sat down with me, and we watched the storm together. I was never afraid of another thunderstorm.

Even though I swear like a sailor on this blog, in real life, I very rarely swear out loud. Because when I was young, Dad never swore (at least around us kids), and he made it very clear that he did not want to hear swear words. I was terrified of slipping up and swearing in front of him, so I never developed the swearing habit. (At least out loud; I swear on this blog and I swear when I talk to myself.)

Dad loved to tinker with car engines. He developed a love of boating, which eventually led to him buying a marina, which he ran for many years after he sold his first business. (We'll save the story about how he came to be called "Captain Bligh" for another time.) During this period, Dad and Mom spent summers at the lake and winters in Florida.

Dad died of cancer in 1999. He passed away one night, six weeks after his diagnosis. In a way, I think it's good that he passed away before Mom's Alzheimer's became obvious - I think it would have broken his heart to watch her deteriorate. I miss him.

1 comment:

listie said...

I'm sorry RockyCat. But, I know you're right. Alzheimers is a cruel disease and is totally devastating to the surviving spouse.