Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Dad

If I didn't know any better, I would think that my father was never a child. To the best of my recollection, I've never seen a picture of my father as a child. I do have a photo of my Dad dancing with my mother around 1960 - before they were married. My Dad was 16 at the time the picture was taken - but he's turned away from the camera. So I didn't include the photo below.

I have been told that the picture to the right was taken on my father's birthday in 1963 - so this shows my Dad a little over four months before my birth. He was 19 - but with that baby-face, I think he looks even younger.

At this point in his life, my Dad was trying different jobs (working in a factory briefly, running a pizza parlor) trying to acquire the means for he and my mom to live independently. You see, I am the oldest child in my family. My parents were married in November and I was born in June (not prematurely) - you do the math.

My father and I have never discussed how the unplanned nature of my arrival on earth affected his young life - but it must have been difficult at the time.

The next two pictures were taken about 10 years apart. At left, my Dad is pictured with my sister, Wendy (the older of my two sisters) circa 1968. On the right, my Dad is pictured in the late 70's - at the time, he was still younger than I am now. Both of pictures were cropped from larger family photos - and when I look at them, I remember that by late 1970, my Mom and Dad had four children. My Dad was 26; the same age I was when the Middle-Aged Woman and I had our first child.

By the time of the later photograph, my Dad was working for Montgomery Ward, a company that he would serve for 25 years before leaving to pursue other lucrative opportunities (getting out before Wards went belly up). My Dad worked his way up from salesman, to department manager, store manager, and regional manager. And he did quite a bit of travelling for business as his responsibilities at Wards increased.

In the early 80's, while I was living on-campus at the University of Detroit, the rest of my family moved to the Chicago area where Wards was headquartered. After leaving Wards, my Dad moved to Maryland, then Ohio as the result of job changes. Earlier this year, he retired - and I am looking forward to seeing him more frequently and getting in more rounds of golf with my Dad than in times past.

The last picture I will include today is from about 10 years ago. The MAW, my Dad, and I took The Girl and The Boy to a cider mill to see the animals, drink apple cider, and eat a donut or two. It was pretty darn cold that day - but we all had a fine time.

My Dad is a gentle soul. Although he can clearly be difficult to live with (he and my mother separated in the late 80's - around the time The Girl was born; but did not divorce for another ten years!) - my experience of my Dad is that he is a warm, easy-going and articulate fellow.

For years, my father smoked too much and weighed too much. He still does. I don't harp on him about it anymore - because I don't expect him to change. But I hope he will prove me wrong. The point is: I long ago accepted the fact that, given his habits, my Dad could die of a massive heart attack at almost any time. So I don't pass up an opportunity to hug or kiss my Dad and tell him I love him.

Writing all this down is one way of doing that long-distance. But I'll give him a call too. Just so I can say:

I love you, Dad.

Take care.


The Stiletto Mom said...

Great post, I'm sure your Dad will enjoy reading it! Happy Father's Day to both of you!

sunshine said...

Happy Father's Day and nice way to honor your dad with a little bio.

First time I read you blog and I like it, keep it up!

Jim Styro said...

S&M: Thanks for your kind wishes. I had a great day - and, based on our conversation this afternoon, I think my Dad did too.

Hope your husband also had a fine day. Aren't you supposed to be devoting yourself exclusively to his needs (and vice versa) this week? Keep us posted on how that's going as you are able.

Sunshine: Thanks for stopping by. I visited your blog briefly today and plan some further exploration there in the near future. I appreciate the kind words.

bernthis said...

first time here, not the last. I too appreciate my dad so much as now that I am a parent I have a much better understanding that he did the best that he could and it was a lot more than I realized

Jim Styro said...

J.B.: Thanks for visiting - glad to hear you're interested in returning. It is comforting to think that, as I grow older, there is the potential that I will get smarter - or at least be perceived that way by my children.

Your blog looks very cool BTW. I intend to check out your video offerings in the near future.