20 Lines A Day

A Community of Writers and Photographers


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Who Are Fathers?

Mom & Dad, 1943 Portland, Oregon

Random musings about my father. We spend so much time honoring mothers, women in general. Bedrock, sacrificing, patient or of great endurance…women are worthy of such honor. Fathers, men, are what? Taken for granted? Tainted by imperfections that  diminish their worth. What is it? Do they contribute to this?

My father never told me he loved me. I never thought about it until later in life. He didn’t hug. He didn’t touch. He worked two jobs for most of his life. He worked until the day a stroke brought him down at seventy four years of age. His work ethic, his sense of duty was astounding. Not once did I ever hear my dad brag or did I ever once see him stay home from work ill. But aside from the most incredible outward persona and example, who was he inside? I never knew.

He left home at 13 years of age. He worked in saw mills, coal mines and rail yards. He lived in a violent place outside Panther, West Virginia, one of eleven children. Eventually, he made his way into the Army in WWII and served honorably in the hell hole Aleutian Islands and the historic Al-Can Hiway. Again, what did all that, amazing stuff actually, create inside my dad? I never knew. He didn’t offer and I didn’t know enough to ask. 

I rubbed his forehead as he gasped in the end. I held his hand and said “I love you”. It was too late to hear it back.

For those of you that are a son, daughter or someone looking at that older gent puttering away in the shop, watching television, dozing in a chair…be courageous and gently, repeatedly seek more about that man. You the father, make the time to say it, write it, show it…that you care about those around you. Go ahead look them in the eye, say it…’I love you’.

I said it was random. Just contemplating today, while looking at an old picture.


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Secrets

We all have secrets: things which we regret having said or done, things of which we are ashamed.  It becomes a wall behind which we hide.  On rare occasions, we drop some part of our armor; but, usually secrets remain secret.  One fact, of which my family was aware, was that I never intended to marry.  Thus, during my mid-twenties and early thirties, single men held no interest for me.  Instead I preferred infatuation with men who found me more attractive than their marriage vows.

Then I met a salesman.  He was bright, inventive, and never a bore.  The longer I knew him, the better I liked him, which was unusual in my former relationships.  We lived together for sixteen years and he was already ill when we finally married.  I was forty-eight and he was sixty-one.  I loved him dearly; yet, when he often said I was his whole world it made me unhappy.  I didn’t want to be anyone’s whole world.  I didn’t want the responsibility.  A year and a half later, I lost him.

During his long illness, we spent weeks . . . months in hospitals with occasional reprieves of freedom to go home.  During one such reprieve he wanted to visit his younger brother: a school principal and owner of a pawn shop.  When we arrived at the shop he checked out the jewelry counter which held several wedding bands.  When we married we had used a ring I already owned.  He called me over, pointed out the wedding bands, and said, “One of these days, I’m going to buy you one of those.”  I smiled and moved on to another area of the shop where I said, “That’s fine, but I’d rather have one of these typewriters.”

How could I have said anything so thoughtless about something which obviously meant much to him?  I immediately regretted my words; yet they were the truth.  Jewelry, including wedding rings, meant little to me . . . but I was a writer.

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