Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day Reflections

My old man was a strange guy (imagine that). As I've said many times he was a depression kid, raised up in the hard-scrabble tenant farming days of Bonnie and Clyde. I really don't think many of us can imagine the life, working AT LEAST sun up to sundown behind a mule and plow or in a tobacco patch where the temperature and humidity were often the same number. I did that kind of work for a couple of summers as a teenager and believe you me, basic at Ft. Jackson was a cakewalk by comparison.

But, to be honest me and pop really didn't get on. I think I had WAY too much of my mother's side to suit him. He was stoic, humorless, severely critical and intimidating. If the definition of a good parent is provider-protector-teacher then Ed was batting 1000, 500 and 0. What I learned from him I learned through osmosis. He had zero patience and an ultra-low tolerance for bullshit or bullshitting. Horsing around would get a foot in your ass faster than a Marine DI with a hypertestosterone disorder.

He enjoyed the appearance of respectability but at his core was anything but. I believe that man is a spiritual being that must worship something be it material goods, status, a supreme being...something, but NOT worshiping is not an option. Ed worshiped money and tail (in that order). I don't think he necessarily liked women per se but he enjoyed the pursuit and conquest (as we all do) and of course the physical aspect. After I got old enough to know what was happening I never knew him not to have a little something on the side, but he was always VERY discreet (Ed never EVER ratted on himself). My uncle (Ed's brother) used to borrow my apartment for his dangerous liaisons (at the time 25 years happily married) so it runs in the family I guess.

He worked liked a madman. He worked so much he couldn't relax unless he was asleep. He could have retired at 45 and lived comfortable for the rest of his life (and I'm sure prolonged his life) but he just couldn't help himself. He had a nice house but not many material possessions. He was cheap as all get out. He wouldn't spring for cable and I can't imagine what he would have thought of cellphones. About a year before he died he bought a brand new Silverado pickup, loaded. He drove it for a week and sold it, went back to his '71 Cadillac. We tried to tell him to take a little time for himself and enjoy the fruits of his labor but he would just give you that look, as if to say "Ya lazy little bastard, I'm a bidnezman and this is what we do".

He had a reputation for offering good terms on deals, but look out if you tried to screw him. He had a vindictive streak a mile wide. He once caught one of his employees stealing from his warehouse: An older lady called and complained that she didn't appreciate his workers urinating out front even if it was 5:30 in the morning....BUSTED! He didn't get on with the prosecutor and therefore hired his own prosecuting attorney (possible in those days). The guy did nine years at Caledonia.

I could go on and on with stories about Ed, some were funny as hell but most I'm still trying to forget. But after 28 years I have to say I miss the old buzzard. I won't say he gets a pass for some of his shit but he was what he was and in hindsight I sorta, kinda accept it. Like so many people he went after what he THOUGHT would bring him the most happiness, and there in lies the rub. All the womanizing and money grubbing obviously scratched some itch, but in the end I'd be surprised if he thought it was worth it. He paid for his sins (dropped death at 56 from a worn out, depleted body) so he got what was coming to him. But like a wayward child I just wish I could go back and talk some sense into him... but he wouldn't have listened.


Mudge said...

Just in case Hammer didn't bring everyone down this Father's Day, let me add that my dad took off when I was 9 or 10. Left Mom, me, three younger sisters with no money, all the bills, no car and he never looked back. He did us a favor. Turns out we had, and thankfully still have, a phenomenal mother who did a better job at being both parents than he ever did, or could have done, being just one of them. So on this, and every other Father's Day, I always give special thanks to Mom.

LL said...

My father was difficult as well. Then again, so was my mother. Than God for grandparents who raised me until they died and then the Navy did the rest.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Two great stories from two great men.

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