My dad has been gone for almost one third of my life. I think of him often at this time of year. In my mind he is a tall quiet guy, waiting for something….what that might be , I am not sure. After my dad passed away it struck me how similar my dad and I were…I wished I would have realized this when he was still alive.
I came across some old census records from when my dad was a child. It is hard to picture him as a child. He was the youngest in his family. His family had lived comfortably before the Depression came along. When my dad was born though they were struggling. From what I gather my paternal grandfather never bounced back after this, either economically or psychologically.
I sense my dad knew from a young age he would have to make his own way through life. He started working at a young age. Later he would join the military and finish college. After that he would meet my mom. I admire that he took time to serve in the military. He’d always taught us to be respectful of veterans. He’ d always wanted to make sure that we were aware of dates such as the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, in which US military personnel had lost their lives.
My father always struck me as an old soul. Perhaps it was because I sense he didn’t have many years of a childhood that were carefree. He had very old fashioned beliefs especially in terms of religion. He was extremely intelligent in certain respects, but in navigating relationships with people, there was always some awkwardness.
Beyond the quiet intelligent man that the public saw, he had another side. His other side was controlled by alcohol. While it was not entirely the alcohol that made my dad sometimes difficult to get along with, the alcohol sure didn’t help. Why did he drink..who knows, I can only guess. I’ d always thought there was an element of depression and anger that he was trying to manage. Along with that I also thought there seemed to be a ghost of sadness that haunted my dad’s side of the family. This ghost was only hinted at though, people just weren’t open about the it struggles with mental health.
Despite my dad’s inner struggles, I always admired his work ethic. He didn’t want to stop working. He had already become sick, and his death would only be a few months away when he finally quit his job.
While I never talked about it with him, I always suspected my dad and I both had a strong need for quiet. Sometimes our shyness made it difficult to communicate with others. Our words sometimes tumbled out in a way that seemed awkward to others. I’ve really tried to work on this especially in the past years.
If I could go back in time I wish I would have tried to get to know my dad better. I wish I would have been able to figure out how to let down some of my own walls and get my dad to do the same.
I originally posted this 2 years ago. Since then, through researching my family tree, I found an old class picture from when he was in the eighth grade. He is the tallest in his class but somehow gives the impression he wants to be invisible. Or else he just didn’t want his picture taken. I was happy to find the picture as there were few childhood pictures of dad.
As I have mentioned elsewhere in my blog, my sister is an alcoholic as well. I don’t know if my dad and sister had a genetic vulnerability to alcoholism, but it sure is a tough disease.