Monday, April 9, 2012

The meat of it all

So my mother and father are 9 years apart. I think the best illustration of this age difference is where they were when JFK was shot. Mom was watching the Bozo show and Dad was in chemistry. Fortunately, they did not meet until the eww factor had been erased. To get all psychological on you for a second my Mom's mom died about 3 years previous and her father had recently remarried to a woman whom my mother hated with a fiery passion. I won't go into it here, but from what I hear, Mom was right. Shortly after she moved out, after a screaming match with her father, she met my Dad... Daddy issues much?
Back to Dad.
They met, partied, moved in together, loved and I am sure fought. They were married after about 3 years together. It was a simple court house wedding, everyone wearing jeans. Mom went to work that afternoon and her boss refused to change her name tag because he did not believe her. The next week they honeymooned in Hawaii. They were there almost 2 weeks, they basically stayed until the money ran out. During those early years they moved a lot, and made a lot of friends. Mom was a waitress, and Dad worked at the VA as a veteran's advocate and a National Service Officer. They were active in the Purple Heart.

After 5 years, Mom decided it was time for baby. Dad claims he was a part of the process, but Mom has told me otherwise. So all that has led me up to what I really wanted to flesh out.

So I know for a fact my Dad loved me, and he never failed to tell me that. When I was a baby, he would play with me, and move my legs and arms. But Mom tried to finish her college degree about 5 months after I was born. When she came home, my diaper hadn't been changed at all. Mom quit right then. If I needed ANYTHING, I know daddy would make it happen.

One time he was supposed to come to my 6th grade class to talk about Vietnam. All three classes were grouped into a class, and my teacher was trying to entertain 90 eleven and twelve year olds while we waited for my dad to show up. When he was 15 minutes late, I called home. Mom had been trying to wake him up for hours. He didn't come, and I had to tell my teacher. I cried in the teacher's lounge for an hour. I was so embarrassed, I couldn't go back to class. I did, I don't remember anyone saying anything to me. I am pretty sure my best friend Beth threatened them within an inch of their lives if they did.

Looking back, I see how that would have been hard for him. But if he couldn't do it, then he should not have agreed to it. If nothing else, then called the school and said he was sick or something.

This is a great example of how I feel about my dad. I have always been so proud of him, and felt a deep affection for him. But when he disappoints, it is big time.

I knew he did drugs, smoked pot mostly. But I also knew that he was unreliable when it came to his prescriptions. No one knew. I told no one. I mean, my best friend from grade school Beth did not find out until I was in college. When I was little, it just meant my dad slept A LOT. I remember when I went to half day kindergarten. When I was on the first shift, mom would pick me up and bring me home, and I would ask if Daddy was up yet. If he was still asleep, then I could watch cartoons. If not, then I was resigned to my toys, or whatever he was watching.

He slept on the couch. When I was really little, I did not know it was weird he slept on the couch. When I was older it was explained that he slept out there for 2 reasons. One, he watched TV very late into the night. Two, he has PTSD, and he did not sleep well. He was afraid of hurting/annoying mom all night, especially if he had a nightmare.  Mom later told me it was because he was really handsy. And he wouldn't LET my mom sleep. That, and he liked to watch TV very late.

 I have a distinctive memory of our house in Cicero. He was sleeping on the couch, I walked up very quietly, and watched to make sure he was breathing. I did this countless times throughout my life. I do it to my mom now. Do people do this? Do other kids?

My dad was never mean to me. I can hardly recall a time that he even told me no. I could tell my dad things that I still haven't told my Mom. My first driving ticket, he knew.

He made sure I had a very rich childhood. The summer before 6th grade we DROVE to Alaska from Chicago. We stopped at every cool place along the way. I saw all sorts of historical monuments and not so historical monuments. Our only goal was to be at my cousin Chris's base by 4th of July. So we took our time, met cool people, took LOTS of pictures, and enjoyed the open road.

See mixed feelings.

No comments:

Post a Comment