Father’s Day brings to mind memories of my Dad who passed on twelve years ago. A World War II veteran, starting his family in 1950, he parented with a firm hand. But my siblings and I never doubted his love and protection. He was a great Dad when we were little, taking us to the beach, on camp-outs, to parks and museums. But as we became teenagers, he left most of the parenting to Mom. I don’t think he could relate to our adolescent shenanigans.
During the fifties and sixties, cigarettes and cocktails were all the rage. My parents were no exception and they smoked and drank along with all their friends. Eventually they gave up the cigarettes. Mom was never a big drinker but Dad continued to indulge in his cocktails, wine, and beer, depending on his mood. I think he was self-medicating to mask the pain and trauma of his own childhood. The depression, and the loss of his mother at a young age, must have left scares. Enlisting and going off to war at 17 surely robbed him of any remaining youthful innocents. Dad never spoke of his time in the war or of his childhood. I think it was painful and also considered unmanly to seek help or show emotional weakness. As long as he had his liquor, he was fine.
Towards the end of his life, Dad and I renewed our father/daughter relationship that had been strained for several decades. Our love of nature and sports brought us back together. While I lived in Alaska he visited and we explored the last frontier together. During football season we played Monday morning quarterback over the phone. I miss those phone calls most of all.
My father was imperfect, short tempered, and not always as supportive as he should have been. But he was my dad, and I miss him.