Sunday, June 20, 2010
Memories of the Men in My Life
I'd like to start out on this hot and humid day wishing all you men out there a very "Happy and Joyous Father's Day". These days are always bittersweet to me. My dad and I never really had a good relationship; in fact, when I look back on it, we had NO relationship whatsoever. My only real 'fond' memory of him was at Christmas when I was a little girl. I was an only child, so he never got the boy he wanted. Each year on Christmas Day I would find trucks, and tanks, and soldiers...always some boy's toys under the tree for me...And, didn't really mind...tomboy that I was. I got as much joy building roads in my backyard as I did playing with my dolls and paperdolls.
My dad was an alcoholic; in fact, he came from a long-line of alcoholics. He worked every day of his life at Picatinny Arsenal, a powder plant...where danger was around him on a daily basis, but children don't understand this. All he wanted was to live his life in peace, to work, come home to his six-pack and go to his bed in front of the television. This wasn't his fault; he just never learned how to be a father...and how could he? His own father and mother gave he and his twin brother to my great grandmother to raise shortly after they were born. My great grandmother did her best, but she was a widow with several teenage children of her own to raise.
My dad is gone now, but he remains in my heart. I'm sad that I never got to say good bye, to tell him that I forgave him...but I know that he knows. This picture is all that I have left of me as a little girl and my dad. He is the one in the dark suit with the mustache. The other is his twin brother. The house I am not sure of, but I think it must be my great grandmother's house. I was never really allowed to get to know that side of my family, but I do remember visiting two little old ladies...one with a magical Irish lilt, the other with an English accent...my grandmother and great grandmother.
My mom's dad was very special to me. Every weekend I was dropped of at my grandparent's home on Friday evening and picked up on Sunday afternoons. Saturday was a special day for me. Grandpa always went to town...and I got to tag along with him. He always gave me a dollar to go to the store and buy myself some cutouts. So, while he did his business in town, I hung out in the little odds and ends store. To this day, I can close my eyes and hear the creaky wood floors that were so uneven you could feel yourself going up and down as you walked... the scent of the store....I can still visualize myself walking through...all the way to the back where the cutouts were kept. Grandpa always had to come to get me. A dollar was a lot in the 1950's and these were some big decisions for a little girl to make. Always needed someone to hurry me along, or I could stand there all day.
One memory I have is of my grandparents basement. Whenever it rained or was too bad to play outdoors, I'd play in the basement. It was perfect. I loved my cowboys as a kid, and in a child's imagination, the basement was the town saloon. The furniture...a huge, heavy wooden table and a long dresser fit right into my imaginary tale where I was the beautiful saloon girl who everyone came to see. Well, one day I didn't feel much like playing; instead, I figured I would do something nice for granddad...I would paint his work area. I found the brushes and...what I thought was paint...and busily painted everything brown. Afterwards, I proudly brought granddad down to show him...and was more than slightly surprised by his angry outburst. The brushes had been, in fact, soaking in turpentine, and I had painted everything with turpentine. The entire house could have gone up. Of course, granddad did forgive me before the day was out, but he sure did have a lot of work to take care of.
My husband is such a wonderful man. I am blessed to have someone who really cares for me, someone who is good to my boys...someone who patiently took the time to teach them the skills they would need as they moved out into the world...carpentry, painting, hanging pictures, etc. Someone who always spurs me on to do better, someone who is behind me in every decision I make. He has never put me down, never insulted me...always has shown me respect. Someone who loves me as much as I love him.
So, the the men in my life...my dad, my granddad, my husband...may you all know that you are in my heart. I love each and every one of you.