I've been thinking a lot lately about legacies. This has been punctuated by the fact that my dad's birthday was a few weeks ago & I've been thinking of him. I haven't seen him since the beginning of December. We still haven't all seen each other for Christmas.

Jen got the ball rolling for me about the strong men in my life - this is something I've been wanting to write about but have not been mentally up to the challenge.
If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know that my Dad is it. He is referred to in certain circles as Three Dog Night Dad.
Let me just say here, before I begin that this may be an ongoing writing project on here. I don't think I can aptly say what I'd like in just one post.

To get started about the strong men, I need to go back as far as I possibly can - to where I think this began.

My grandfather (my dad's dad) was one of eight children. And their mother, Orna, died when my grandfather was very young of a massive infection. I believe that was the catalyst for this example - this strong male role - in my family.

My grandfather had an older brother Jacob - they were the 2 youngest children. And they were very close. It turns out my grandfather, Herbert married my grandmother Jeannette and Jacob married my grandmother's sister, Marie. The two couples were very close and growing up, my dad & uncle were very close to their double-first cousins (who were Jake & Marie's children).

I have always loved this picture of my grandparents.

When my grandfather & grandmother were first married, they were living abroad in Korea, Japan and then the Philippines, as my grandfather was in the military. My grandmother, I know, looks at these years as the happiest of her life. If I'm not mistaken, my uncle was born in the Philippines and then the young family moved back to the States shortly thereafter.

My grandparents entertaining. He is at the head and my

grandmother is opposite at the far-end.

My grandfather was very involved with his boys. Teaching them to fish, spending time outdoors, raising cattle on the farm, hunting, Boy Scouts, etc. He was very hands-on, from what I understand. I know that my Dad and Uncle still light up when reminiscing of the short time they spent with their father and the mark he left upon them forever.
Health issues are abundant in that family line - diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, etc. My grandfather died in his early forties of a heart attack on or right before Thanksgiving, as I've said before on here, when my dad was 9.
I believe at that point, Uncle Jake was a point of contact as a male figure, as well as my Grandpop Donovan.

My mom says that she doesn't remember very much about Uncle Jake, but when I was an infant, my dad and mom took me down to Uncle Jake & Aunt Marie's. Uncle Jake held me right away, and in his Southern accent said, "Bless her little bones". My mom says that has stuck with her to this day. I think back to what it must have been like for my dad, to momentarily have the closest thing to his father holding his newborn baby girl. Uncle Jake died just a few short months after that and I believe he had to have a leg amputated at some point before his passing.

My grandmother, who was left to take care of The Farm that her & my grandfather bought, had rented out the marsh area to hunters. My grandmother was always very good at finding the right people for whatever need she faced in her personal and business life. She became friends with a Mr. Robinson (who got my dad into hunting and Young Waterfowlers). I know that my dad looks at that time spent with Mr. Robinson as a very positive experience. I know that Mr. Robinson died some years back, but I'm not sure about his wife.
Although there was a great support system in place and my grandmother did all she could to make sure there were great men family friends around for her boys, I know my dad was broken. He wanted something of his own. He always felt overshadowed by his round-peg, everything goes as planned, older brother. My dad always had long hair and a rebellious spirit that went against my grandmother's grain. But he always knew who he was and he was never going to change.

In high school, he met my mom and they had me in their Junior year. My dad was ecstatic about having a baby - and having a daughter. Though the road was rough, having a kid while you're still in high school, I think my dad felt like he finally had his family.

And that is where this story begins....

2 ripples in the pond:

Oh, The Joys said...

"Bless your little bones!" I can't wait to hear more!

jen said...

me too, me too...three dog night dad got busy early...wow.

i mean, that young, and such an awesome dad...

more, please.