Tuesday, June 14, 2005

THE BELATED HERO

I think for the first 11 years of my life my father was almost just a polite stranger in our house.  To my young mind he seemed to be gone more than he was home, thanks to a career in the Navy.  I knew he worked on submarines, and then later on sub tenders, but I didn't ask many questions back then.  Later, when he retired, I didn't care.  By that time I was hitting my teen years and it no longer mattered in my world.  Life for the moment was all about me.

I had a mission, it was to defy authority and free the oppressed teenagers, starting with those who lived in my house.  I had learned from my friends at school that I had an opinion, and that it superceded any other opinions, regardless of the chain of command.  Unfortunately for me my father, with his strict upbringing and disciplined military training, totally disagreed with my new found ideology and thus began the dark ages.  In my defense I honestly believed that I was justified in my persuit of self righteousness.  At one point my father gave me the nickname 'Butt-in-ski'.  Can you say 'grounded'?  Trust me when I say that my father could.  I think I spent half my high school years confined to the house, or in the case of worse offenses, to my room! 

After my graduation I didn't realize it but I was slowly being molded into a more responsible member of society.  My parents constantly volunteered me to help with various Scouting events that taught me not only to respect authority, but also how to earn it.  My father helped me find my dream job as a typesetter and graphic artist at the local print shop.  He drove me around town as I invested my first pay checks in a magical roundback acoustic guitar and my first camera, a Pentax K-1000 35 mm SLR with interchangeable lenses.  I didn't realize it at first, but the polite stranger who dared to oppress my individual freedoms was instumental in taking my dreams and turning them into reality.

The turning point came at my wedding reception, when my father and I danced for the first time in my memory.  I was already walking on clouds and was able to focus on only one face... that of my new husband... until my father took me in his arms.  I looked up and his words faded as I saw something in his eyes that I had never noticed before, pride and love.  And tears!  At the end of the dance he kissed my forehead and told me that he loved me.  And when I told him that I loved him too, I meant it more than I ever had before.

Today my father is a familiar voice on the telephone, he is inspirational emails in my mailbox, and a welcomed visitor to my house where he entrances his grandchildren with his exciting stories from the sea.  To my kids he is a hero and they listen in awe even when a particular tale is a little taller than the last time he told it.  I regret that I did not allow him the chance to be my hero when I was their age, but in retrospect I think he always was, I just didn't realize it at the time.

And I probably don't say this often enough, but I love you Dad.  Happy Father's Day.

The photo was taken in Scotland in 1971 when my father retired from the Navy.  From left to right, starting in the back:  My oldest sister Teresa (Lisa), 2nd oldest Naomi, Brian (Lisa's friend) Front:  Dad, Mom, brother George, Myself with my baby sister Davina infront of me, 3rd oldest Valorie.  In the foreground... some important Navy guy, probably the ship's commander.

======================================

(This is the comment my father left in my journal after reading this entry)

Dearest Daughter:

I had a hard time reading your "Tribute" because I couldn't see through the tears.  Mom was at my shoulder as we read from start to finish including the comments.  
I'm so very glad that the "Contagion of The Old Man of The Sea" did rub off on you early or later.  That's what Fathers are for, sweetie.  Glad I could steer you on toward where you are today.  My job feels almost completed now, but not quite ready to quit just yet.

I Love you too, my very own "DORN"
Comment from
ambassadorsinte - 6/14/05 11:49 AM

16 comments:

demandnlilchit said...

How cute is he!!!!! Even though my Dad wasn't the greates father in the world and came with many flaws, I'm still a Daddy's girl at heart and have forgiven him! I just wish he was still here for me to tell him that! Dorn very moving tribute and Happy Father's Day to Dorns Daddy too and to Gabe also!!! oh and I can't forget dickie-doo Either! lol

sdoscher458 said...

I love large families...god bless your Mom, I struggled with three but if more had happened I would of been happy too.  Great memory in that picture...wonderful tribute to a great Dad....Sandi

bigred3392 said...

What an eloquent, beautiful entry! Happy Father's Day!
http://journals.aol.com/bigred3392/TracysAwesomeJournalofAwesomenes

awen1122 said...

Dorn, my friend, you moved me to tears.  What a beautiful entry!!!!

mechants said...

It's not Father's Day yet, is it?!? Oh my goodness, I need to get on the ball here. I LOVE pictures like this. Mostly because I have pictures like this too. I don't why these navy pictures are always in black and white, but I like it. It adds personality and mood to the picture, I think. Your father sounds like a great man. Cheers!

Ari

ambassadorsinte said...

Dearest Daughter:

I had a hard time reading your "Tribute" because I couldn't see through the tears.  Mom was at my shoulder as we read from start to finish including the comments.  
I'm so very glad that the "Contagion of The Old Man of The Sea" did rub off on you early or later.  That's what Fathers are for, sweetie.  Glad I could steer you on toward where you are today.  My job feels almost completed now, but not quite ready to quit just yet.

I Love you too, my very own "DORN"

mumma4evr said...

ok.,...I can see htat your Dad was a PO2...but can't see exactly what his rate was....what a great looking family!!!!
becky

astaryth said...

What a wonderful entry... AND you look like Rocky in that picture!

jen73169 said...

What a WONDERFUL entry!! I hope you shared it with your dad.
Jennifer

hestiahomeschool said...

awww....this was so sweet...

purplectigger said...

What a wonderful  tribute to your day. I'm sure he's proud of you.
Hugs, R.C.

csandhollow said...

I think everyone tonight is determined to keep me crying. It sounds as if you have a good father. Treasure him until the end and beyond.

smjr43 said...

Dang, Dorn, make me cry why don't you!!!!  You are very blessed to still have your father.  I don't.  Tell him as often as you can how much you love him.  I wish I had told my Dad more often.

Susan
http://journals.aol.com/Smjr43/Colorado

psychfun said...

This was so lovely & makes us all think of a different perspective as we get older of our fathers (parents). We also don't always understand the time frame of what all parents were like then. I think of how my parents are grandparents today & if they could be parents today with all the wisdom they know have going through it they would be different parents...something to really keep in mind.

Thanks for sharing your story with us!

forpounds said...

OMG< I'm in tears!!!

sunnyside46 said...

makes me really miss my daddy
Marti
http://journals.aol.com/sunnyside46/MidlifeMusings