I’m Going To Be the Opposite of…Whatever it is You Are

Posted: January 31, 2013 in Life
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Aside from Dad’s issues with squirrels, he was also incredibly impatient. He’d never discuss his issues with you, or tell you he was running out of patience or that he was fed up…he’d just blow up. Or, if Mom was taking “too long” at a store, he’d abandon us there – literally. We’d be walking around and suddenly he’d be gone. We’d go out to the parking lot only to discover his rusty blue Bronco was also missing – he had just turned around and left. We’d use a payphone (this was the 80’s…nobody had cell phones) only to discover he was at home and not interested in coming back to pick us up. Inevitably, Grandma or Grandpa would have to come get us. If I was sick and had to go to the doctor, he’d be okay right up until the appointment – then he’d get antsy while we were being seen and take off.  No reason given, and nothing was said. He’d just be out of there so fast your head would spin.

Our doctor was an old family friend – a great guy I usually just called Doc. Our families went back several generations – my Great Grandmother helped him through medical school by having bake sales. His kids and my mom played together, and I am great friends with his granddaughter. He actually delivered my Mom and supervised my birth. Anyway, he was a field surgeon during World War II, and he got such a reputation for himself that the Nazi officers were asking for him by name when they were captured and wounded – even though he was an Allied surgeon. He nearly died, though, when he was leaving a medical tent. Some colleagues invited him to get some coffee over at the Red Cross tent, but he declined – he had done surgeries all day and was exhausted. As he and his colleagues diverged, a shell hit their camp and blew up the tents – his colleagues were killed, and he was thrown many feet into a ditch. They pronounced him dead initially, but soon discovered vital signs – he was no worse for the wear, except for losing an eye. Anyway, Doc was always looking out for us – he was the old kind of doctor that made house calls and mixed his own medicine – even as a kid, this kind of doctor was a dying breed. I don’t think there are any like him in existence anymore. If we called him up at 2 AM and said one of us was sick, he’d throw on a robe and come down immediately. He’d see us, give us antibiotics or whatever, and hardly ever charge us. If we insisted, he’d only ask for maybe $25. He didn’t do what he did for the money, he did it because he was great at it and he loved it. In my opinion, a good rule of thumb for just about anyone.

Anyway, Doc happened to be getting rid of a stove – it was still good and he wanted to know if we wanted it. We said yes, and enlisted Dad to help move it along with Clint, one of Doc’s sons. Dad evidently did not want to move this stove himself – looking back now, I see this fact rather clearly. He didn’t say anything directly, but he gave every excuse in the book why he wasn’t able to do it. He was already a probation officer at this point, and was enlisting “favors” from his parolees – if they came and did such and such a thing, like helped him paint or move a stove – he’d overlook certain violations or give them a good report. If not, well. Who knows what he might say? That’s just the kind of person Dad was. Anyway, he tried to enlist the help of ex cons to move the stove, but Doc hit the roof – he had medicine and equipment in his office, and he didn’t think it was wise for criminals (even ex criminals) to just be waltzing in and out. Dad pouted – literally pouted at this, and was forced to take the stove down a flight of stairs with the help of Clint.

Dad: I got it, you can let go now.

They were only a few stairs down.

Clint: Are you sure?

Dad: Yep.

Clint let go, and Dad dropped his hands to his sides. The stove slid and bounced its way down the stairs, finally crashing on the landing.

Dad: Oops.

The stove was broken, of course, and at that point moving it to anything other than a dump was unnecessary – Dad “won”. I have dozens of stories like this, but I hope that helps to illustrate exactly the kind of person Dad was. I watched his actions growing up, and decided that I would become the antithesis of whatever he was. He was short tempered and fussy? I would be long suffering and easy going. He was a nut that hoarded weapons and walked around armed to the teeth? I’d be a pacifist. He was a drunk? I’d never touch a sip of the stuff. I began to define myself by what I was not – and I began to be very proud of the fact that I was nothing like him.


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