Father’s Day. Far as I know I never became one, but I sure had one to remember.
The pictures I cherish of Pop aren’t ones of forced or phony smiles. He’d seen too much. Been down too many hard roads. By the time I came along his days of posing had passed. Instead you caught him as he was, take it or leave it, made no difference to him. If you got a smile or laugh, all the better, but you had to earn it. And though he laughed easily with a contagious wheeze, a glare was all it took to freeze you.
Neither was he demonstrative in his affections when we were young. Yet never was there any doubt where his heart lie – hell, why else would he have gone off to work every day like clockwork without ever complaining or taking a day off?
One night when I was six or seven I stepped off my upper-deck bunk bed after dreaming that my sister was tickling my feet from below through a hole in my mattress. When I couldn’t get her to stop, I decided to go tell Mom and Pop.
When he heard the dull thud coming from our room, Pop rushed in to find me unconscious on the floor. He called a doctor who lived up the block to come help. And when the guy refused, because “it’s the middle of the night”, Pop sped me to the hospital all the while devising a plan to kill the SOB. And he’d killed a few in his time in war.
Maybe that’s the first thing to know about we Baby Boomers and our dads. We grew up in a decidedly non-child-centric environment. We may have been the last of the “shut up, and sit down” generation, kids who were actually afraid of their parents, and with good cause. These were people who had grown up in a Great Depression, then fought in a World War. They had known hardship and made sacrifices. As such they had little interest in the prattling of a generation for whom much had been given and little asked, love us though they did. (more…)