His counsel; life lessons of guidance, to me, his son, was not one, of a hand on your shoulder, lean-in soothing admonishing erudition, but, one of forthright action. He was a resolute resident of the John Wayne, Gregory Peck generation, where the emphasis is/was on the demonstrable ‘walk’ of “walk the talk” expression. A man of humble, penury means and limited education had a dream to see the world, and capitalized on the opportunities the military; specifically, USAF, to aerially taxi to every continent save the Antarctic—musing, the falling short of every continent, one skeptically has to ponder, just how much cognitive enrichment would be availed by an endless ice sheet…but whom am I to judge the source of enlightenment.
“Enjoyed” the life and experiences of a service “military” man for 30 plus years, twelve in the Navy, then transition to the continent hopping Air Force. He survived three wars: WWll, Korean, and Vietnam. He attained the respected and highly sought after rank of MSgt, MOS of flight engineer. One Col. commented, he marveled, “ how he (dad) intuitively, magical it seemed, could fix an airplane engine with a screwdriver.”
When Dad retired, he sensed an academic void and promptly registered in the local community college, where he attained an Associate Degree in Business Management. Inherently, he personified the proverb, “a rolling stone gathers no moss” with this pent-up energy, he melded the alloyed elements of military leadership experiences and now, the shinny new academic organizational business theories, which afforded him the opportunity to ply it to community service. He became a member of the Adjustment and Joint Planning Board of the Town of Spring Lake and served until he was 86 years old.
It was said, “dad knew no strangers”; greeted everybody with a face consuming smile, that as it raced from ear to ear, it triggered a curtain blinds-like eyelids closing countenance, reflective of squinting, hiding his sky blue eyes. My immediate family has commented that, I too, am plagued with the same syndrome of knowing no strangers. Not a bad learned behavior.
We, my sibs and I, all had dad exclusive moments. He luxuriated in a story of me, which I have no recollection of when I was a weee toddler of the mature years of three, who apparently had the chimera mad skills of a contorted, nimble spider and backhoe digging armadillo: squeezing and burrowing through a backyard fence. I liberated myself of the confining chain fence multiple times before he found the escape route. He was astounded at my ingenuity and perseverance.
Then, during my rebellious adolescence years, super charged and crazed with hormones, spurred to distraction by a fire red head “preacher’s daughter had the temerity one evening, due to a schedule conflict, to abdicate my sib sitting duties to my sister, while mom and dad were out for the evening. The fantasy date went south, reasoning crept back into the prefrontal cortex, and I realized…opps. Returning home was a two-day rationalizing introspection, which when was all said and done in my head, didn’t go well: it segued into a biblical retribution. Dad thought a belt lashing was proportional punishment to my irresponsibility and the mental duress I selfishly inflicted on both of them of not knowing my whereabouts for two days; mom was really upset. His prelude to the belt flinging was, “this is going hurt me more than you.” I demurred to that premised and contended that I felt it, the pain, more than he did…just sayin’
A look of confidence that said volumes: Dad accompanied me to purchase my first car. It was a 1972 VW Beetle, stick shift. I paid $2,200. After all the paper work was completed, a receipt of sale handed to me; I paid cash. Dad and I walked to the shinny, lemon yellow bug. He opened the door for me; he noticed it was a stick shift and queried, “When did you learned to drive a stick?” “Some friends taught me”, I replied. “Alright, you got this.” He didn’t challenge or looked back.
Dad’s careening emotions of parenting was demonstrable in his intrigue in my toddler creative ingenuity, disappointedly aggravated in my adolescence rebellion and flushing with pride in my young man independence.Mom said, “That Dad winked and said, “Love you” the night before he passed……. Here’s winking at you Dad…