My Dad

My Dad

My Dad

This is my dad. His name was James, but everyone called him ‘Jim.’

This photo was taken about five years before he died, much too young, a victim of lung cancer. It’s my favorite photo of him because he looks so happy.

Dad was a Depression kid, born into a hardscrabble existence. I think his tough past had a lot to do with the man he became.

His mother and father were miserable people (together and apart), and they went their separate waysย during an era in which divorce was frowned upon. Back in those days, a man could leave his family and not provide much in the way of emotional or financial support for his kids. My grandfather was a cold, selfish, vindictive man. He left his wife with four boys to take care of during one of the worst economic periods in U.S. history.

Later, in spite of periods of coolness between them, my dad continued to maintain ties with his father. I marvel at this. I never thought of it while my dad was alive, but it must have taken a big heart to forgive a man like my grandfather. I don’t know how he did it. Perhaps everyone needs a father, even a bad one. I don’t know. But I do know my dad kept in touch with his father until the day his father died.

My grandmother had her problems, too. I don’t remember much about her, to be honest. But I do know that she remarried when my dad was only thirteen, and when her new husband didn’t want my dad around, she shipped him off to live with her sister.

Nice.

My dad kept in touch with her, too, for the rest of her life.

He was a better man than I am a woman, I think. When people hurt me, I open the door for them – and then push them through it! But my father never closed the door on either of his parents.

My dad was a smart man who could add long columns of figures in his head – a trait he passed on to my sister and which entirely missed me. He also had a talent for putting words together on a page. Unfortunately, when he was sixteen, he dropped out of school to help support his family, and he never went back.

He worked behind a deli counter in an old time grocery market until he was drafted. This was during the Korean conflict. He was stationed in Germany and France. He never forgot his time in Europe, and decades later, he and my mother visited those countries. When he died, my mom gave me a photo album that contained all the photographs he and his Army buddies had taken during their time in the service. It’s odd to see your father as young boy, a raw youth.

A few years after he’d come back to the States, he started going to church and one day saw a pretty black-haired girl singing in the church choir. He asked who she was – it was my future mom, Audrey. They fell hard for one another, and soon married.

My dad then worked as a postal employee until he finally reached retirement. He was a lifelong member of the American Legion. He marched in patriotic parades every year. He was instrumental in having a park established in a poor neighborhood so kids would have a place to play ball. He was a member of the Democrat Club, and he loved discussing politics. My dad and his pals were once interviewed about local affairs by a newspaper reporter. I still have the newspaper, now yellowed, featuring a large photograph of my dad. He looks great – enthusiastic, eager, totally engaged in the discussion. He was happiest when he could hold forth on world events and the political scene. I like to remember him that way.

My father was an ordinary man. He believed in the United States, that it was the best place on earth. He strongly believed in the power of the vote, and he made sure we believed in it, too. I vote in all elections – local, state, primary, general. My dad taught me that. He used to say no one has a right to complain about the government if he sits on his butt on Election Day.

I loved my father, but I can’t always say we got along. He was a stern man. If something was put on the table, he didn’t want to hear excuses – you ate what was placed before you, and you liked it! You don’t take food lightly when you’re a Depression baby – and he never did.

He wasn’t a demonstrative father. I can’t remember him ever saying aloud, ‘I love you.’ But I have memories of his picking me up from school and taking me to the movies. He was usually tired and would fall asleep during the picture, but his heart was in the right place. Whenever one of those movies we saw appears on television, I get a warm feeling, remembering the dad-and-daughter outings.

The night before I got married, my dad sat across from me during the ‘rehearsal’ dinner. I was excited and happy, full of myself. I noticed my dad’s eyes on me – and then I noticed they were moist. He didn’t have to say he loved me. I knew it.

After he died, my mother was going through his things, and found a poem I’d written when I was a kid. I was surprised and touched that he had held onto it all those years. He was proud of me. My dad was proud of me. I still have the poem, and when I look at it, it’s like my dad is sending me a message even now: I may not have said it, but I love you.

My dad wasn’t perfect. But he was my dad. And I miss him. And each year that goes by, I find I miss him more.

Yesterday, I wrote a story called ‘The Red Sweater.’ It didn’t occur to me until after I’d finished the story, but I was writing about my dad. He was that elderly man who missed his dog. During the worst of my father’s illness, my mother’s dog (Gretchen) used to stay by my father’s side. When that dog died, my father used to dream about her.

Sunday is Father’s Day, and this is my tribute to my father.

Happy Father’s Day, dad. I miss you.

About Kate Loveton

Aspiring novelist. Avid reader of fiction. Reviewer of books. By day, my undercover identity is that of meek, mild-mannered legal assistant, Kate Loveton, working in the confines of a stuffy corporate law office; by night, however, I'm a super hero: Kate Loveton, Aspiring Novelist and Spinner of Tales. My favorite words are 'Once upon a time... ' Won't you join me on my journey as I attempt to turn a hobby into something more?
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24 Responses to My Dad

  1. macjam47 says:

    Kate, this is a wonderful story about your father. Everyone has a different way of showing love. My father’s childhood years were similar to your father’s. He always kept in contact with his Dad, even though his mother objected. I was fortunate to be involved in the lives of both my grandfather and grandmother through the efforts of my Dad. Dad was a loving, and kind man. I miss him every day.

  2. jan says:

    Father’s day is rough for those of us who’ve lost fathers that’s for sure. My father’s been gone for about 10 years.

  3. A wonderful tribute, Kate. My youngest son used, jocularly, to call me the dustbin, because I ate food he thought was not fresh enough. I was born in the middle of World War 2.

  4. Kate Loveton says:

    Reblogged this on Odyssey of a Novice Writer and commented:

    I hope you will forgive me for reblogging this post from last year. I find I’ve been thinking a lot about my father the past month.

    No one needs to comment on this – I know you’ve all seen it before. But it was imortant to me to remember him again. He’s been a lot in my heart the past several weeks, showing up in my thoughts at odd moments. It’s an old chestnut that he people you’ve lost are really never dead as long as you remember them.

    Tomorrow I’ll be back with something a lot less sentimental – maybe a little murder and mayhem or a humorous twist of fate.

    But, for now, I’m unashamedly and unapologetically letting my father ‘live’ again.

  5. Kate, this is a tender tribute to your dad. How lucky he was to have had you. Your dad showed you the power and mercy of forgiveness. I’m still trying to learn that one. My dad died 4 1/2 years ago and I miss him every day still. It does eventually get easier to remember one you love without sobbing your heart out.

  6. Kate Loveton says:

    Hi Margaret, thanks for dropping in. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad you identified with what I wrote. It’s difficult to rise to the challenge of parenting if you’ve never had a good role model – and when someone does, like your dad, they deserve a lot of love and credit. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, my friend.

  7. Margaret Smith says:

    Wonderful tribute to your father Kate, and written from the heart. My father died many years ago now and was only 62, young by today’s age achievements, and he is never far from my thoughts. He also came from a broken home and an angry abusive father, but he was the best himself, and after all these years I still miss him.

  8. W. K. Tucker says:

    Beautiful post, Kate; you did your dad proud. Though my daddy has been gone from this earth for 10 years–he was 94 when he died and still retained all his smarts until the very end–not a day goes by that I don’t miss him. And my mama too. It’s a shame that all people don’t come from loving homes.

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Hi Kathy! I think we miss our parents even more as time goes on. That has certainly been the case with my father. I think about him often. He would get a kick out of this blog! ๐Ÿ˜€

  9. What a lovely tribute, Kate. The more so because recognizing your Dad’s faults, you also saw all the good and you loved each other, warts and all. It touched such a chord in my heart because I saw my father the same way. You are a superb communicator and he would be so proud of you!

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Noelle, your kind words mean a lot to me. I do see some similarities between us in the way we speak of our fathers. Perhaps that is why I love your essays about your family life. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Kate Loveton says:

    You’re welcome, Heather. I was fortunate that my father, with all his failings, was a pretty nice man, and a committed father to me. Coming from a broken home, himself, it could have been otherwise. I was lucky.

    Thanks for reading, my friend. โค

  11. I wouldn’t try to speak for your father, it is neither my place nor my right to, but I can guess that he’d be pretty darned proud of the wonderful woman you are, Kate.

    As you say, you might not have always got along, but you loved your father and he loved you. Time is often a great healer and it is only when someone is no longer in your life that you realise the profound effect they’ve had on you.

    The relationship between father and daughter should be a precious one and I’m happy to read that you have many good memories of the times you spent with him.

    This post moved me considerably, thank you for sharing it with us โค

  12. mihrank says:

    wow – what a super and emotion blog – I cried reading your blog. I am beyond humbled!

  13. What a splendid tribute post, Kate. Superbly crafted and straight from the heart. I can tell you put a lot into that. Keith.

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Thanks, Keith. Funny thing how the passage of time makes you more understanding of people. My dad was a good guy, and I think sometimes we forget our parents are ‘human’ – we expect them to be perfect. No one is. I do miss him. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Hi Kate…. Lovely written…. Felt so good that I have a loving dad reading this…. I really am a fan of yours from now…. No other post was so touching….

  15. Lovely! Dads can be tough old goats. Thinking about him and loving him inspite of your rough patches is what’s beautiful about you, Ms. Kate. He was definitely proud of you. We all are… โ™ฅโ™ฅ

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Thanks, Audrey (noticed my mom’s name, right? ๐Ÿ™‚ ) It’s funny how my dad came to mind when I was writing a story… he wasn’t on my mind at the time, but he sure came to visit! I appreciate your kind words! โค

  16. Lucy says:

    That was very nice. Lucy

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