Saturday, April 8, 2017

Growing up without "Mom"!

I always missed my mom who died when I was four but I don't think I ever stopped to think bout how difficult it must have been for my big brother Hank who was probably 12 at the time or for my sister Jane who was probably nine at the time. I didn't know what was happening but they did. It must have been very difficult for them. My brother was losing his mom who took care of him and kept him close. My sister Jane was probably even more devastated. Her role model, the lady who taught her how to be a lady. Having lost my first wife after 15 months of marriage, I am sure my dad was probably devastated.

A lot of times, we get caught up in our own thoughts and problems and never think about how other people are affected by the same action. Can you imagine the lost a daughter experiences as she is just beginning to enter adulthood. A girl who is beginning menstruation and experience the emotions of dealing with people -- especially boys who are going through a similar maturation process with hormones raging.. Girls who may be jealous and boys who are not really interested in you but what they can get from you. Wow! Being a male, I can't begin to imagine all of the things a 9-10 year old girl would go through -- especially if she doesn't have any aunts or grandmothers close by to caution and guide her. I'm also sure that having a bratty little brother under foot wasn't very helpful. Probably a significant portion of the responsibility for looking after me fell to her.

It was probably a little less emotional and traumatic for my brother because he had my dad to come to in times of discovery and questions. Being as young as I was, I don't really know how receptive and willing my dad would have been to discuss the situation -- especially immediately after losing his wife. I'm inclined to believe that there are some things that only a mother can caution and give advice on -- even to little boys. I'm sure one of the things that he would have needed advice on was interaction with girls and social skills.

My dad's sister and aunt lived in Pittsburgh, about 180 miles west of Carlisle. So while they may have been able to provide some comfort via the telephone, I can't imagine that they would be that handy or helpful. As I remember, my mother's family weren't that close. I don't know why but I just don't remember them being there for us but at the same time, what does a 4-5 year old boy understand abut these things. The more I think back on it, the more questions

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Remembering my dad -- "Pop!".

I grew up in a small (18,000) town in central Pennsylvania from 1941 to 1959. It is about 18 miles west of the state capitol, Harrisburg. Carlisle was a nice little town. You could walk or ride your bike to any point in town and most people either knew you or your parents. My mom died when I was four. My brother was 9 years older than me and my sister was 7 years older than me. Consequently, I spent a fair amount of time with my dad who was a physicist and veracious reader. I remember going to the state library in Harrisburg at least once a month so that my dad could check out books. On a lot of those trips I waited in the car for him and on other days, if there was an interesting exhibit in the library, he would let me wonder around the exhibit and meet him at a specified location at a designated time.

Those were interesting times. I don't remember my dad giving me specific instructions  not to speak to strangers, but I never did. Although I can't remember specifically, I don't think my dad was ever very far away. The exhibits were always very interesting and always had something to do with Pennsylvania -- e.g., native Americans, coal mining, farming, schools, communities, etc. One of the things I remember from sitting in  the car is that every now and then I would see men in their dirty work clothes and I always said to myself, "I don't know what I am going to do when I grow up but I know it won't be a dirty job." It is funny how things like that stick with you.

When we would drive to Harrisburg from Carlisle and vice versa, we would play games. One of them was that my dad would name a state capitol or a state and I would name the corresponding state or state capitol. Another game we would play was that my dad would name the school and I would name their nickname or mascot -- like he would say Army and I would say Black Knights of the Hudson! One day he said Army and for some reason I said Black Knights of the Potomac. We both laughed and laughed about that one. . One other game we played was to name a city or town and the other person would have to name a town or city where the first letter of the name was the last letter of the city or town that was just named. We had a grand ole time.

My dad has been gone since 1962 but I still remember him fondly and vividly. He was a good man.