In my personal history – maybe personal mythology is more accurate, maybe something in between – my Dad was pretty much absent. But, today, a day after going to the Exploratorium with my grandkids, Charlotte and August, several – similar – memories of my father have surfaced.
He took me to my first car race and, several years later when I was thirteen, taught me how to drive. We argued over Dred Scott and the proposed tram from Palm Springs to near the top of San Jacinto Mountain. He took me to the 1960 National Democratic Convention and the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley. I could bum cigarettes off of him but he wouldn’t sign a permission slip to let me smoke at school.
I was deeply embarrassed that he was a draft dodger – during World War II, a time when everybody’s father had been in The Service – and deeply proud when, at a church service, he outed himself as an atheist by sitting while everybody else kneeled to pray. He was soft and tender with me, much more than my mother. When we saw each other we kissed, I am not sure we ever shook hands.
He often forgot my birthday and he paid for me to go to College at, what I now know, was a sacrifice on his part. He died 45 years ago last May and I still miss him.
He was my Daddy.