This entire series of blog posts are about a single thought: Daddy just doesn’t ask for anything, or hardly anything, anyway. I have been pondering all the reasons why he might be that way.
My father was never an overly chatty sort of person. As a matter of fact, I can recall being a bit intimidated by that tall silent man of the household as a small child. My mom was very vocal and talked a lot about anything and everything to anyone, anywhere. Daddy, not so much. He was a man of very few words for most of his life in most situations. As an Air Force fighter pilot for most of his career, he was also absent a fair amount. TDY (Temporary Duty) and the Vietnam War (two tours that included a dramatic crash and rescue) so he was a bit of a mystery to me for a much of my early life.
Sometimes mom talked a little too much – and Dad would finally use words- by exploding and yelling loudly. Even then- there weren’t many words involved. Happily that hot temper, that thing that used to absolutely terrify me as a child, subsided over the decades.
Dad still has a few life stories that he can relate, but the details for many of them are fading. He’s nearly died many times, two major airplane crashes, snowstorm disasters, car and motorcycle crashes, near misses with boats, machinery and fires, a bout with prostrate cancer, and spectacularly, he watched the historic 1991 Andover Kansas F5 tornado tear through his back yard from the front porch. “Why didn’t you go next door to the neighbor’s basement with Mom?’ I asked many years later. “Well by the time I saw it, it was too late to cross the street,” Was his response. I suppose he didn’t want to sit in the neighbor’s basement unless absolutely necessary. And since he and the house remained standing, I suppose it was not.
Most recently just months ago we went through medical adventures that even had his surgeons wide-eyed as he healed. “That is a strong man there, ” said one, nodding. That actually was a time when he did ask for something, Well only sort of. “I think we need to go to the hospital,” He said one Sunday. Even that was more of a statement than a request. He sat quietly and patiently on the sofa while I ran around like a madwoman gathering up things to get him to the ER where he had not one, but two emergency surgeries. He carried a one inch gallstone in his bile duct until he just could not anymore.
Daddy’s stories mostly now seem like mine to remember. I try not to get the facts or details mixed up, especially with the older ones, but I suppose that is probably inevitable.
Some of Daddy’s great stories and adventures are mine to tell as well because I was there and they were my stories too. Fires, electrical accidents, the Big Red car and his boat in the middle of the ocean are but a few. But most of these stories are best saved to remember and tell another day. The reason I suppose I am bringing them up now, is that when thinking of my Dad, who he is, and these stories of his… they are almost all about “single-handedly” overcoming some adversity. Granted, a not small amount of the adversity was self-generated and ridiculous, but still.
My dad built and invented and created things, he healed from things the doctors said he could not, he went on adventures and followed his dreams, he solved problems and handled sticky situations usually all by himself, largely with inadequate tools or outside support, and often with an incredible amount of supernatural “luck” that saved the day or saved his skin in ways that often seemed hard to believe. In short. he lived and he has survived his long life primarily counting upon no one but himself. I often tell people my most treasured quality about my own self is one I adopted directly from my father; and that is not only being independent, but also being resourceful. And perhaps that is another reason Daddy doesn’t ask for much.
He just isn’t used to asking anyone for anything.
Part 4 coming up tomorrow.