Friday, September 3, 2010

My Dad - Part 1 (The Chief)

  One nice thing about having my own blog is that I can indulge myself with any subject I want.  So there!
One subject that has always been with me since the beginning of my awareness is my father.  He had been in and out of my life more times then I can remember so was always kind of an enigma to me.
  The earliest recollections of my dad are probably in the Admiralty Village in Kittery, Maine, where we lived on two or three occasions.  The 'Village' was off-base housing for Navy personnel and their families that were assigned to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  Later on, much of the housing was sold off to private owners.  My dad was in the Navy for some 28 years as a Pharmacist's Mate which, I believed is now called a Hospital Corpsman.  He retired as a Chief Petty Officer which is the equivalent of my retirement grade from the Air Force of Master Sergeant (E-7). 
  He had both valid and invalid reasons to not always be around.  One very valid reason was that he served in two wars, WWII and the Korean War.  Like many veterans, war wasn't something he talked about much, let me rephrase that, he NEVER spoke of war.  I remember one time as a child, we were watching a war movie on TV and I made some immature remark about it and he gave me a chewing out.  That was the only time he made reference to war.  I can only imagine what horrors he saw; for example, he was offshore during the Normandy Invasion assigned to the Navy mine sweeper, YMS 351.  On December 24, 1944, the Belgian ship Leopoldville, was being used to transport American soldiers and was torpedoed by a German submarine, and on December 26 a British destroyer escort was torpedoed.  On both occasions, he was involved with rescuing survivors and giving them medical aid.  I would assume that also ncluded recovering those that didn't survive.
  I wish I knew what my dad was like before he joined the Navy when he was still a teenager.  I would be curious to know if his demeanor was different compared to coming home from the wars.  I don't know much about him when he was younger, except what I have heard from family members.  He grew up in Maine and enjoyed winter sports, particularly skiing and hockey.  While in school, he received a cut on his upper lip from getting hit by another player's hockey blade which left a scar for the rest of his life.  It was pretty cool, actually.  I am told through the family grape vine that my dad's parents had a live in house keeper who was a young girl.  Rumour has it, he had some carrying on's with her!
  Anyway, the father I knew had a mellow personality.  They say he was an alcoholic, but I never saw him drunk.  Though there were times when he was feeling pretty good, I think.  I always wished he would have opened up to me more.  It had even crossed my mind that maybe I was a disappointment to him, but I don't think that was the case.  He was just quiet and not outspoken
  The other reason for his absences was the fact that he and my mother had separations and eventually divorce.  With my parents divorced, I was raised by my paternal grandparents during my teen years until I was on my own.  They did so much for me, and I, as a bratty teenager, didn't express any appreciation at the time.
  Over the years as a father, I identified with some of the trials and tribulations that my dad might have gone through.
  To be continued....

It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was. - Anne Sexton

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