This picture is of the very last fishing trip I took with my Dad. Lake Vermillion in waay Northern Minnesota on the edge of wilderness where we all helped build his retirement dream cabin.
In a few ways, my Dad was a stereotypical Dad-of-a-Boomer—think Mad Men. A Navy man who served in the North Atlantic for Lend-Lease and then in the Pacific, including Midway. As a Gunnery Officer, his hearing was compromised and we all yell at each other to be heard to this day (he died in 1989, largely due to the poorly treated symptoms of T2). Mom married him more or less on the way to a posting. They didn’t see each other for 6 years.
She worked as a secretary in the ad agency where they met. Working was not foreign to her. Born in 1920, Mom was raised by a single Mom (when there was no such phrase) who was the first female Public Stenographer in the Twin Cities……When Dad came home, they moved into a sweet little GI-Housing house very near beautiful Minnehaha Creek and Lake Harriet in Minneapolis where we loved playing in mud and sand and some of those 10,000 lakes (that locale is unaffordable now for any returning vet).
However, unlike modern interpretations of that difficult historical period, Dad and Mom were kind, open-hearted people, never mean-spirited to the larger world, though I know they hurt each other. I’m sure they drank too much by modern standards, but we 3 kids interacted delightedly with their party guests, several of whom were warriors, too—at least one, the husband of the then current “Betty Crocker”, had been a prisoner of war in the South Pacific (one of Dad’s major accounts was General Mills/ Betty Cocker). Sometimes we would sit on the steps to listen to Old Friend of the family, Mary, play the piano while they all sang along.
As we grew up in the 50s and 60s, there were many things that were truly amazing in our “upbringing”. Dad loved us. His way of demonstrating that was being sure financially that we got to every single dance lesson or dance performance or football or baseball game or piano or flute lesson that we desired; that we got to the colleges we wanted to go to, even if it meant a 2nd mortgage on the house. And Mom fueled the transport to all of those. And, as difficult teeners, he made sure that all of our friends, including the “troubled” ones, came to “Chef Pierre” cookouts—welcomed with the Love represented by the tradition of “breaking bread together”.
I suppose I was a “Daddy’s Girl”. Yes, I was a “baby ballerina” in the grand old tradition of the Ballet Russes and the youngest member (along with my sister) to perform with a major regional company. But I also relished seeing Jim Marshall of the Vikings run the whole length of the football field for a touchdown in the wrong end zone. And Mudcat Grant, pitcher, hit a totally amazing homerun for the Twins in the world series (teehee—my high school vice principal never hassled me about passes to attend sports events—but a rehearsal to perform before 5000 people in a grand old opera house—that he didn’t get!)
And I will never forget a trip to Itasca, the headwaters of the Mississippi, just me and Dad, where we could step across that mighty river at sunrise on a gorgeous day.
And how about this: he flew to New Jersey to help me drive 15 semi-feral sedated cats across country to Minnesota in the fenced off rear of a station wagon. Non-stop.
Because of the times, his diabetes was barely dealt with and a series of strokes due to ridiculously uncontrolled BS #s did him in. That is my legacy from him, too.
What lingers is Love. Unconditional love……Love you, always, daddy……