This morning I woke up thinking about my dad.
Maybe it's because on Memorial Day, we went to the graveyard and did the flower/flag thing.
I spent my early years in the Navy--moving every couple of years. I have glimpses of memories from those places. A stroller ride in Disneyland, crunchy snow from Waukegan, IL, fireflies and hot sand in Norfolk, VA, and picking huckleberries on a hillside in Keflavik, Iceland.
It was my life and I didn't know there was anything different about civilian life. Living on a military base can be isolating but conforming. In Iceland, we all lived in the same military housing, went to the same K-12 school, and watched the same channel of television for the few hours we got service. Remember, this was in the dark ages before cable or satellites and on base, we got one channel that aired between 1 PM and 10 PM.
Dad retired in 1971, after twenty years of service. He'd been fluctuating on whether or not to resign when he was diagnosed with Diabetes. We left Iceland and landed in New Jersey--so green. How weird to see trees, flowers, and true grass after two and half years. We picked up a car in NJ and drove cross-country. All the way across.
We stopped and saw friends in Waukegan, relatives in Nebraska and Kansas. Visited Mt. Rushmore, Wall Drug, and Yellowstone Park. I got my first Trixie Beldon book on that trip, played silly car games with my sister, and pressed Silly Putty over comic strips while killing time in motel rooms. My parents saw Charo on t.v. for the first time while on that trip.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime journey before we documented every moment of our life. My documentations remain somewhere in my head and I'm sure I've transposed some of my memories to fit stories I tell myself.
Dad's been gone for a little over six years and I've come to realize it's the little things I miss--the way he said my name with affection, his hand slap as we passed him sitting in his chair, and his bring-the-family-together meals. Man, how I miss having him call and ask if we wanted to come over for dinner. And not just because I have to cook. But, because we had spontaneous family time.
I think those
memories, in one way or another, color the stories I write and the
characters I create. And my Dad? Well, there are definite elements of
his character transported to the men in my stories--no nonsense,
straight-forward, but full of heart men.
*the second picture is of Icelandic huckleberry pickers*