I have always been the ultimate Daddy’s girl. My dad was the apple of my eye and the center of my universe. I loved to play tricks on him, tell him jokes, tell him his muscles were “wet noodles” (I thought that was good.) He loved to call me “Jug Ears’ and things like that. We had a funny little relationship. But, it wasn’t always easy.
My dad and I were so much alike. I understood him and he understood me, for the most part. Where ever he was, that’s where I wanted to be. While I was not afraid of my dad, I had a healthy respect for where the lines were drawn. I knew when his gray eyes went steely blue that I had gone over that line and until I became a teenager, I reeled in my disrespect.
My dad didn’t have an easy life after coming back from WWII. He was a Yeoman 1st class in the Navy. I have always been proud of that. But, the reality was that his job was to toe tag his friends/colleagues who gave their lives for our freedom. Because he had seen too much in the war, he came home a very different man than the one who went to war. By today’s standards, he came back with PTSD. But, back in the ’40’s, ’50’s and ’60’s, PTSD had not been founded. So, he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He was in the hospital and had to take meds and shock treatments the rest of his life. Mental illness had such a stigma attached to it, we could not tell anyone lest he lose his business. Because of his illness, he had an inferiority complex, never thinking he was good enough. But, I always thought he was the best. His illness did not scare me. He didn’t drive me away, nothing like that. It drew me closer and I understood on some level.
Our life was not all gloom and doom. We had fun, went on fantastic trips across the United States and Canada. He made our lives full and educational and fun. He had his dad’s ’48 Ford and he loved to tinker with it from time to time. He let me hand him the tools he needed and I thought I was working on it with him. He made me feel important and I knew he loved my sisters and I so much.
No, life was not perfect for him, but I hope it was as good for him as it was for us. Because of him and my mother’s hard work, my sisters and I never wanted for anything. They gave us all they had and more.
My dad was simply the best dad he could be and I thank him and miss him every day. Happy Father’s day, Daddy. I love you.