Monday, February 12, 2007

We Were All A Problem

There's an old magic Eight Ball

Right next to my plate

When I ask it a question

Regarding my fate

It says "reply hazy, please try again"

It wont say where I'm going

It don't know where I've been

….but I'm right here now…

james mcmurtry




I have heard it said that the bond between a Father and Son is a fragile bond, full of mistrust and fears and failures on both sides. By the time I graduated High School, the bond between Dad and I had been severely tested.

On Friday nights as I prepared to go "carousing" around, Dad would give me $10, and say "Don't spend it all in one place!"

Every week the same conversation would ensue.

"Right Dad"

"What are you getting into tonight?"

'Nuthin' I can't handle Dad"

"Well, just remember… that Wisdom… is the greater part… of Valor."

"Fer shure' Dad" and within the hour I would have a $10 bag of trouble, which would greatly enhance my other pursuits, chiefly Sex and Rock and Roll.


I didn't realize back then that Dad was really being kinda cool about the whole thing. Those mornings years later, when we would talk as we ate breakfast, he referred to them as my "Wild Bill Cody" days. I definitely had the hair for it.


It took a some years, after the Diagnoses, after considering the years he spent severed from hiis family, splintered from even himself, living an unimaginable existence that could not be foreseen, that I came to realize what a problem I must have been.

Dad was a man of few words. He told good natured stories, clean bone dry jokesand used the ever present cigar for punctuation. He had a slow and steady cadence to his pattern of speech that allowed every word to sink in.

He met and married my Mother after returning from WWII.

She had a 4 year old son, Don Lynn, and Dad legally adopted him, giving Don his name and his love.

Don told me a story about the first time that Dad was going to discipline him, and give him a spanking. Don could not recall what the infraction was, but this he vividly remembered:

"Mother, not wanting her child spanked, jumped to my defense.

'You are not going to spank my Boy!'

Dad turns and faces Mother and in his slow methodical way, says softly but firmly;

'We are going...to start…right now. You are my wife…and this is MY son…and ..I am going to…to raise him as best… as best as I know how"


My first memory of Don was the day he snatched me off the front porch as I was taking a piss…

Don came out all right…he graduated from West Point in 1964.

In 1982, Mom had a stroke. After a few weeks she seemed to be making progress, and I had been keeping Don advised, but he was able to come home from his station in Saudi and I was glad to have him there.

During a late night conversation , I expressed regret at having been such a problem for Mom and Dad through the years.

You know what he said?



"Steve, we were all problems."










Pretty smart, my brother.

11 comments:

Barbara said...

This is the first I remember hearing about your brother. Are you going to let us know what he's up to these days?

My Dad liked that "Don't spend it all in one place" phrase too. It was that depression mentality that just kept coming through.

red-dirt-girl said...

My dad just always said, "Money doesn't grow on trees!!!!" Nice - your brother.......but somehow I get the feeling that this post also has something to do with your son.......

Mother of Invention said...

I'm confused...both Don and Dave are your brothers? Are they both still alive? Is Dave younger?

steve said...

Dave is my nephew. he is the son of my brother Don. Don fell to Cancer on January 4th, 1997. It was quick, about a year was all it took.
I'm not sure how many Degree's Don had, but Math, Physics and Chemistry... he studied and taught his whole life.

Dave said...

Well done Steve! I was trying to leave a comment at the exact time as you and Blogger ate it, but I guess you explained that I am your nephew.

As far as I know, Dad had his bachelor's and his master's in Physics. I believe he taught Physics at West Point in about 1974 or so. He got an MBA just before he retired and then he taught more Physics at Ellsworth Air Force Base. He used to brag that he could teach Physics to a tree--and he could! He used to set his students straight over the phone. He very much wanted to teach high school math after he retired from the Army but he couldn't because he didn't have a teaching degree. He would have been ten times as good as any math teacher or math professor that I've ever had. What a shame!

GrizzBabe said...

What a good man your Dad was.

GrizzBabe said...

And he raised a good son.

Old Lady said...

Well, I wish your brother taught me Physics when I needed a good teacher/professor!

Mother of Invention said...

Wow! Smart man! And he left this world way too early. Thanks Dave and Steve.

red-dirt-girl said...

dare I say, Happy Heart Day to you??? hope you have a good one!

Annelisa said...

Sounds like your dad raised two good sons! (unless there are more of you hanging around? :-) )

Just came over to wish you a Happy Valentine's, Steve - hope you have a really good day! (((hugs)))