Thursday, October 12, 2006

STAFF SGT. RENFRO

Up till now I have said little about my father, a truly good man. He fought in WWII in North Africa and Italy under General Patton. There was a cigar that seemed to be a permanent fixture in Dad's mouth which he used to great effect as he talked to you. Dad could move that cigar from one side of his mouth to the other and you never saw his lips move. It was as though it rode on ball-bearings. Surreal. Whenever Dad wanted to put some puctuation to any remark he might be making, the cigar would come out of his mouth and he would study the cigar, and the ribbons of smoke that came off of it.
When I turned 16 and got a car, I met a girl at a Junior Acheivement Dance. She was not my first girlfriend but she was the first with me having a Drivers License and a car. A whole new world was opened up. Her name was Jeri, and man, this girl could dance!
She was also very pretty, with blonde hair down to the small of her back, Ice-blue eyes and pouty lips that shone with Ice-Cream lipstick.. I am sure that it was her good looks that prompted my Dad into one of our little conversations.
After coming in from a date with Jeri, Dad sat me down.
"Thats a real nice lookin' girl you are seein' there son"
"Thanks Dad"
"You know, son, one of these days that little girl is gonna get the hot pants for you"!
"Undoubtedly, Father"
The cigar comes out and we both study it for a long moment.
"Well when that happens I want for you to take her on to her house and you just come on home too."
'Sure Pop"

There were other signs that Dad was losin' it.
His signature was getting sloppy and his writing wandered off the line.
When we worked on the car, he had trouble getting the screwdriver into the slot.
When he pulled up to a stop sign, sometimes he stopped 20 feet in front of it.
I thought jokingly that he must be getting senile.

Two years later in 1975, I heard a Medical term I had never heard before.
Alzheimers.
Dad had a "remarkable" form of it and it left him completely disabled at the age of 58 years old.
Dad always told me what the right thing to do would be.
I let him down a lot.

5 comments:

Barbara said...

That's a little too close to my age for comfort! Yikes! I'm sure his life from 58 on to his death was not a picnic for you or for him. I give families of Alzheimers victims a lot of credit for coping.

Coffeypot said...

All men fill the have let down their fathers in many ways. But the truth is, he knows what life is about and the reasons young men make the mistakes they make. He understood more than you know and I bet he was extremely proud of you.

GrizzBabe said...

58? That is so young! He sounds like he was a wise man. When a girl gets the hot pants for you, take her home and you come home too -- excellent advice for a young teenager.

Mother of Invention said...

I don't think he'd think you let him down at all. He probably knew that you were taking in his wisdom to use later in life and pass it on down to your kids.

steve said...

Thanks for your kind comments- and, yes 58 is very young- its called early onset alzheimers and is more common than you may think.
http://alzheimers.about.com/od/diagnosisissues/a/early_onset.htm
Thank you Coffeepot especially- it reminds me of what my brother told me- he was a West Point grad, 2nd in his class, and he assured me that 'We were all problems".