November 9, 2010

I Remember So Little





I only knew Gunny as a drunk who slept his evenings away in his corner chair, and drank his days away with the enabling of his wife and secretary.

Frankly, I’ve been putting off scanning his “baby book” for years. It sat right next to the old scanner waiting for my attention….one of those boring projects that seemingly waits forever. Forever came a few days ago when, instead of working on the blue quilt, I turned my attention to the pile behind my computer.

It only took a little while to sort the piles of paper, to direct other items into new directions, and pull the old scanner out for easy access. It isn’t just a baby book, I discovered, it was the story of one child’s life, one man’s life - birth to death.

Gunny is my father, and I remember so little.

By going through this “baby book,” I found pictures from his birth almost through his death. There he is on his father’s knee in skirts. Yes, baby’s wore skirts in those days. There he is next to his mother on the steps of someone’s home. Tiny photos, sometimes nine to a page, make scanning them endless and reinforce how much this boy, this young man, this graduate of Berkley, of the University of Arizona with his LLD, this reluctant WWII soldier, this drunk was much loved.

I do remember a red MG sports car pulling into the driveway one sunny day. I asked later, and mother said it was just an old friend coming to visit. No friends ever came to visit tho I knew Gunny had some friends. Years later, mother told me that it was Killian who came to talk to Gunny about AA.

As I scanned the pages of the baby book, I wanted to yell to him, “Stop smoking now. Put down your pipe or you will die an awful death.” And later at the young man just marrying my mother, I wanted to tell him, “Go with Killian when he comes to make a 12th step call on you. Go to AA.”

I remember so little.

10 comments:

  1. It must be generational -- although there's something more involved. My mother's cousins are uncovering pictures we never knew existed, including some undoubtedly a hundred years old. And my mother took numerous pictures of her "funny-looking first born."

    But I only know of one baby picture of my dad, and no one in the family took it. Little kids in those days played in the street if there was no yard. A newspaper reporter asked my grandmother if she could take a picture of dad, about three years old, sitting in the middle of the unpaved street...

    I guess it was some kind of article about how the city needed parks for kids to play, so they wouldn't have to play in the road.

    Dad grew up an admirable man anyhow, a wonderful father. I've written about him a lot, 'cause we still miss him. He would have been 101 this year.

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  2. Beautiful post and great pictures. What a fantastic perambulator he rode in. The problem with old pictures is that often we DO know what the end was, and we can't warn them beforehand just as you had the urge to do. Every life is a book.

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  3. Priceless, Maggie.

    You know-- this sounds like a poem in the making, or the opening to an autobiography. Ever consider writing one? You're quite eloquent.

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  4. So odd to look at our parents as those little children and think where life took them and sometimes how little we knew about them until they were gone.

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  5. I am so sorry such an amazing life was clouded by alcohol. I am so glad you are his legacy of what he did right with his life.

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  6. 'and drank his days away with the enabling of his wife and secretary.'

    That is quite chilling to read. I hope he is resting in peace. Our parent's lives are another country.

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  7. So complicated and unexplainable the twists and turns of our lives. If we could make those we love wise and perfect, then we would be the weaker.

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  8. Dear Mage,

    I am so glad to see you here today. I know you have booked a cruise to Mexico but didn't know when you were going.

    All the news of the Carnival ship being adrift without power had me hoping it was not your cruise I was reading about. Two ocean-going tugs are bringing her back to San Diego now, and I am very happy you and G are not aboard.

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  9. Hi Nancy, we are glad to not have that adventure too. We are taking the HAL shop Oosterdam and leaving just before Christmas. Here's a local article about the Carnival ship that has all the latest news. She should arrive here late tomorrow.

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/

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  10. "And until the Splendor is towed to San Diego — estimated arrival time is late Thursday — the guests and crew must make do without showers. A detour to Ensenada could become necessary if the chosen towing strategy doesn’t work out." (Signonsandiego.com)

    Can't you just see 4,500 passengers trying to check into the Ensenada Motel 6 looking for a shower and a hot meal? And,aren't you glad you are not one of them? I am,too.....

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