Friday, February 28, 2014

Remembering the 28th of February

1970 Dad was still working and happy
February 28, 1903 in Lawrence, KS my daddy was born.  He was the third son for his dad but the eldest for his mom.  One more brother would follow.

He was certainly a product of his generation but he was also smart enough to figure out that times change and whether you approve or not, sometimes you must accept life on the terms presented to you.  Unfortunately he married a woman who didn't understand that but believed that you had to mold life to meet your own needs and beliefs.  They often found themselves at loggerheads until Daddy would relent and give in to Mother.

Daddy enjoyed his life throughout this twenties and thirties.  He bought automobiles, he traveled, he bought beautiful clothes.  He had a job he absolutely loved.  He lived at home with his mother and dad and they made sure he was well fed, his bed was made, and he had clean underwear.

Then Mother snared him.  He was 38 and she was 16.  She pursued him with all the ferocity of a lion hunting a lamb.  Only living a block apart, she kept a watchful eye on his comings and goings, especially his girlfriends.  She chased after him for three years and finally, when she was 19, she caught him and within the year they were married -- and she was three months pregnant. 

They only managed to product one child, me.   Sometimes I was the delight of their lives; sometimes I was a spoiled, rotten brat.  But to my daddy I was always the apple of his eye, the orchid in his lei, the sunshine after a violent storm with Mother.  He loved me unconditionally and when I was happy, he was ecstatic.

To me he was the calm port those wild typhoons that my mother loved to create.  He was bookish, he enjoyed writing and speaking, he was not coordinated, and he couldn't repair anything.  I take after him in so many ways.

He loved to travel but after he married, Mother decided she hated being away from home.  My grandfather (Mother's dad) took us around the U.S. when I was a kid, but Mother was never happy about going.  Eventually she found a way to stop travel when she and Grandfather bought a cabin in the mountains where we could spend the summers.   

Dad loved being well-dressed and before marriage his clothing came from the best stores in town.  After he married, Mother bought his clothing from the bargain basements.  She let him have three suits -- blue, gray, and brown.  He was allowed one pair of shoes for work and one pair for weekends.  He had a herringbone overcoat and a gray felt hat.  He enjoyed nice ties and sometimes he even wore bow-ties but he never had flashy ones. On weekends he would wear jeans with a western shirt and a bolo tie.

He went to church regularly and became an usher.  Mother criticized him mercilessly about the job he did gathering the collection, but the church loved to have him part of their crew.  They asked him time and again to be on the usher board and Mother couldn't understand why, such a "clumsy oaf" was wanted as part of the visible crew of the church. 

He had a warm sense of humor and never made enemies.  Mother was always mad at somebody or other and she couldn't understand why he didn't take her side.  He forgave easily any wrong done him. 

He loved puns and would spring them on you without warning.

My grandparents (Mother's parents) could not understand Mom's attraction to such a man.  He wasn't wealthy, he was not driven, he had only a so-so job, and he told punny stories they couldn't understand.  My grandfather, who never went beyond 8th grade, couldn't relate to this college guy without ambition or the desire to make the big bucks.  Still, they knew him to always be a gentleman and they supported my parents all throughout their lives and beyond.

Dad loved the mountains, almost more than life.  He had spent his summers in the Pike's Peak area from 1907 and he always felt at peace once he heard the wind in the pines at 8000 feet above sea level.  Some of my best memories are of us driving across Kansas to reach Colorado Springs, then driving up the mountain pass to our "pine rest" cabin.

My dad always had my back.  He once told me that if he vanished, there was a letter in his desk at work, that explained he had stayed in the marriage as long as he could for my sake.  But he never did leave me, he stayed and he loved and he nourished my spirit in ways that food never could.

He wasn't a perfect man -- but he was a wonderful, generous, kind father.

Happy Birthday, Dad!    

Forced to retire in 1971 he was the most miserable man alive; he had loved his job and never wanted it to end; now he was stuck at home every day without the intellectual stimulation he required. 

1 comment:

Margaret said...

He sounds like a wonderful, and interesting man. Your mom on the other hand...I'm glad you had him in your life, but am sad that you had to deal with your mom's issues. I didn't realize that there was such a huge age difference between your parents.