Here’s to dear old Dad, especially if dear old Dad was a hell-raiser.
My father wouldn’t have fit on a Hallmark Card. My parents’ divorce removed him from any daily contact with his children, and when he came into our lives (once a year, for years and years), he’d stomp in and try to give us course corrections. We called him Master Sgt. Campbell, behind his back. To his face, we tried to be perfect children — or I did.
He drank. He got into bar fights. He was a sniper. Back when my parents still liked each other, my mother once inked onto a photo of a group of soldiers parachuting to the ground in the distance, “Hero.” He got blown up in Vietnam, and then rallied enough to cuss out a Catholic priest who was giving him last rites.
I guess you could say he was a man’s man, and when I worked up the nerve to tell him I was divorcing 100 years ago, the first thing out of his mouth was “Honey, you’re doing the right thing.” I believe I started crying. I’d expected a heater-blast of condemnation, and I got love, the unconditional kind you read about. Just like that, our relationship changed, and — I’ve said this before — if he was an imperfect man, he was the perfect father for me.
I have a later photo of my father and my son, where my son’s grin wraps around his head twice, and the look of love on my father’s face made him look…gentle as a lamb. I stare at that photo more than is healthy. I’m posting the one of my father in uniform because I’m living proof that what you think you see in a person may be wrong, wrong, wrong.
My father died in 1992 of a particularly virulent kind of cancer. He went out with his chin up, as he reassured all of us that he’d made peace with the world, and that Scots are noble by birth.
I love and miss him still.
May you have been blessed with a hell-raiser of your own. Feel free to send me a photo (JPEG preferred) of your father, and I’ll post it here:
Say hello to Sharon’s father, who is about 54 in this photo. She says she also have a photo of him in his military uniform when he was in his 20s, but of course can’t find it now.