Coming home, body part in hand, blood, I was a child maybe 8 or 9 years old. Mom panics, Dad calmly handles it and gets me bandaged up and to the doctor for stitches. Just one of many times. Still earlier, me maybe 4 wanting to help with dad on the ladder, I get a metal splinter in my finger (I still have the scar) infected had to go to the hospital to get it lanced. Me struggling, yelling for daddy… All I could think of was Daddy could fix it…. Where’s my daddy…
Fast forward to teenage years, I was always in trouble, ready to drop out of school by 16, that was my plan. Dad picking me up from being expelled; frustrated asking me what the problem was, what could he do, he was at his wits end. Me the smartass who thought I knew everything tells him it is just too easy, so why should I even try, just let me go my way… He challenged me, asked me what I didn’t think I can do; what is beyond my reach, something too hard. I smart off to him tell him I could never be an astronaut.
He tells me he can show me the way if I wanted to. That was the turning point, a long road a tough road, but he stood by me the entire way. Fast forward to my Senior year in HS, he did it, he followed thru he showed me the way and stuck by me. He helped me get nominated and accepted to 4 of the 5 military academies ( Kings Point, Coast Card, Annapolis and West Point)… Way beyond what I thought was possible and a thousand miles away from dropping out at 16….
I let him down, I did not follow thru. He was disappointed, upset he spent so much time, love and energy helping me… He thought he had finally done it… given me the opportunity of a lifetime. I am sorry Dad. But he still loved me, relished in my accomplishments lamented in my failures; of which I let him down more often than not.
Mom and Dad move out of town, Dad needs to stay with me for a short time in my college apartment, run down typical first college apartment. He and I lived in a single room in the middle of the winter with plastic on the windows to help keep us warm. Dad snoring keeping me awake, I keep a jar of pennies beside my bed so that when he gets going and I can’t sleep I just throw a penny at the wall above his head, he wakes, stops snoring long enough for me to fall asleep.
During the same time, I get to know a part of my dad that I cherish to this day, he and I drinking on my couch sharing stories, mostly him about his early adulthood and some of his trials as a young man. Stories that I would not have ever known about, some that were hurtful to a small boy growing up with a handicap some as a young man before he was married living and having fun. A man from a poor family, the first with a college education; a smart man, a proud man, a stubborn man.
Fast forward 30 years. I have my own family and have an appreciation for just how tough being a parent is, how challenging, how thankless yet how rewarding. My children never knew their grandparents, a regret; but my dad lives on in me and my love for my children. I wish my dad could have sat on the couch with me one more time so that I could share the happiness and joy that I have in my life now. One more beer one more Jack Daniels, one more story... never to be.
We are not perfect, none of us; and we see life thru the lens of our point of view and only thru time can we hopefully see balance. I wrestle every day with the struggles of raising a family, providing for them as a I see fit, knowing that they will probably not get it, but just maybe they will.. I just want my children to be happy, there was a time when he did too.
Some of the best parts of me I got from him. Where’s my Daddy… I feel like a little boy.. I miss you dad I wish I had one more chance to talk to you. Dad... I love you and I get it.