(Note: I previously wrote a few of these in memory of my father. I am re-posting them here as this blog will be the home of all my writings.)
Intro and Early Life
Father’s Day 2016 just passed last weekend as I begin writing this. I was reminded of how I never did much for my father on the day we’ve set aside as a nation to honor them. Other than the stereotypical ugly ties and socks in my pre-teen years, and before that homemade cards out of crayons and construction paper – he never received much else from me besides a phone call.
A part of me feels bad I suppose, but on the other hand that’s just the way it was. My parents never did a lot for their parents on those days either. I don’t think it’s something I need to feel guilty for… just the facts.
Although, with my dad’s passing earlier this year I have been unable to shake the thought that something needs done to memorialize him for the truly extraordinary man he was.
He was, indeed, extraordinary.
He was also a private man. He didn’t share his thoughts or feelings much. Something like this would embarrass him.
…but he’s no longer here to get embarrassed, and he deserves to be memorialized; if for nothing else, so my children can better know who their “Papaw” was as they become adults.
Recently I was struck by the fact that with his passing – and his sister and mother’s passing before him – the people who had the most intimate first-hand knowledge of his youth are no longer present to impart that knowledge. Along with this realization came the heavy-hearted awareness that I knew far less than I feel I should.
Perhaps with the delivery of this to the world, other information will be added. What little I do know, and can myself remember, follows…
My dad’s own father died when he was only 8 years old. He didn’t speak of it often. On more than one occasion though, when he did speak of it, he mentioned the fact that he didn’t even go to the funeral. I recall him once saying “there I was at home playing with my friends while my dad was being laid to rest.”
This isn’t some psychological treatise – for one, I’m certainly not qualified to write one – but I can’t help but think that this affected him significantly.
No, not just the fact that he didn’t attend his father’s funeral, but the fact that he grew up without a father from 8 years old on.
His mother worked as a nurse. He referred to himself as a “latchkey kid”; in his words, he had to “fend for himself”. Depending on the shift his mother was working, he had to feed himself breakfast and head of to school, or supper and tuck himself in.
I do know that for a time, he and his mother lived with his sister and her husband Charlie. His sister was 20 years the elder. That being the case, she was out on her own starting a family before my father was even born. There are several pictures of my father with his nieces and nephews and they’re all right around the same age. They grew up together, played in the dirt together, did what little kids in the late 50’s and 60’s did together.
That’s long enough for one installment. Other writings on this topic can be found under the category “In Memoriam: Herbert Michael Ohley”.