Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day: Remembering Dad

My dad had a very rough childhood. He was placed in an orphanage at the height of the Depression along with two siblings. His sister was lucky to get adopted, his older brother tragically died from complications of a tonsillectomy. Dad spent his childhood in a series of foster homes in New Mexico, mostly as an unpaid farm hand.

In high school he found his mother and littlest sister in Denver and lived with her through high school. Times were still hard. He worked 3rd shift through high school in a meat packing plant(he never did care much for hot dogs). During classes he slept, but he did pay attention in typing class.
As soon as possible he joined the Navy. He loved the Navy. They sent him to a clerical school and he became a yeoman and office secretary for the Captain of the USS Fall River. A picture of the USS Fall River hung proudly in Dad's office.

In 1949, while on leave in Japan, Dad made his way to Nagasaki and took pictures with his Browning automatic box camera. On the ship back to the USA he became very ill with radiation sickness, and eventually received a medical discharged from the Navy. They did not warn the Navy boys about radiation, or maybe didn't understand it. His health was never the same after that and he had immune issues for the rest of his life. He was lucky, though, to avoid cancer.

Despite the rough patches in his life, Dad was a fun loving, gregarious man. He loved camping, games of all sorts, from Scabble to Frisbee. When I was a little girl he took piano lessons. Every spring while I was growing up he planted an enormous vegetable garden. 

After he retired and got a computer in the late eighties, he ran a word processing business, doing newsletters for various schools and organizations. He and Mom had a lovely home right by the golf course, where Dad spent many happy hours. They were married 52 years.

When I decided to marry my husband the major issue that made me decide was he reminded me of my dad!

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post, Melissa. It reminds me of my dad. He didn't have the best upbringing, and exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam also caused him a lot of health problems throughout the remainder of his life. My dad was far from perfect in a lot of ways, but while he was alive, he taught me a lot about appreciating the life I have been given, an infinitely valuable lesson I'm so lucky to have learned at a young age.