For My Dad

The relationship between a father and a son is a most unique one.  It is "expected" that the father set the standards for which the son is to achieve in the development from the child into the man.  A "good" father sets an example for his son in order that the child may see the future into his own manhood and strive to be "just like my Dad".  Fathers provide their sons with the tools of a moral compass, a firm set of values and a strong work ethic for which to achieve the goal.  They are also charged with the responsibility of providing discipline to the son when the boy strays from the proper applications of these tools.  Teaching their sons that actions have consequences is many times painful for both, but a requirement both must accept.  Lessons taught well, and learned well, result in good men, capable of becoming fathers themselves.  And the cycle repeats itself.  It has worked for generations.  It has worked forever.
Not all fathers are perfect, and certainly neither are their sons.  We are all of us humans, and we quite often fail to live up to the expectations that we have for each other.  My Dad was no different.  Neither was I.
Richard Arnold White was born on April 10, 1926 in Carpinteria, California, the youngest of seven children in a family of simple means.  His father taught him all of the things that fathers must, and like most sons, he oft went astray and suffered the consequenses of his father's discipline.
When World War II broke out, my 16 year old father briefly lost his moral compass and lied about his age, joining the United States Navy in defense of our Nation, under attack by the Japanese.  Serving in Okinawa until the war's merciful end, my Dad returned home and began working as a mechanic for the telephone company.  With his family underway, he worked full time and attended The University of California Santa Barbara when he was not providing for his wife and three sons.  He graduated with honors in June of 1952.  His work ethic, his values, and his moral compass allowed him to achieve this goal, and it was rewarded with a very successful career with Pacific Bell that ended with his retirement as a Vice-President in 1984.  My father set a magnificent example for his three sons.
Like every son, I would make choices that were contrary to the teachings of my father, and he was always very consistent in meting out his discipline.  I recall the spring of 1957 as my older brother, Thom and I were out with my Dad and oldest brother, Dick.  They were practicing shooting Dad's hunting rifles, and Thom & I wandered away for quite some time, looking for spent shell casings.  When we finally wandered back to the others, my Dad was furiously worried.  All the way back home, Thom & I new we were in DEEP trouble, and we feared for the butt whooping that was sure to come.
Being spring time, baseball season was beginning, and Thom and I were looking forward to trying out for Little League.  We were very excited about making the team and getting our "cool" uniforms.  When we got home late that afternoon, our Dad called us in to sit in front of his desk with him behind it.  He wanted to talk to us.  Lectures were ALWAYS harder than spankings, because he knew how to shame us and make us realize the disappointment our behavior had brought he and my mother.  This time, my Dad offered us a choice for punishment.  He told us that we could have a spanking, and then go try out for Little League.  Or we could forego the spanking and NOT be allowed to try out for the teams.  We wanted to play ball so much that we accepted the spanking and off to the basement we went.  Neither one of us made the team, either.
Many was the time that these moments occured as I grew.  But I learned well from my lessons.  I was never able to achieve as much as I wanted in life, despite much encouragement, guidance and discipline.  As a young man, alcohol crippled my ability to make the necessary wise decisions in order to truly succeed.  Many times we disappointed one another, and I always tried, but failed to make him proud of me.  That contributed to my dependence on alcohol and I was caught in that vicious cycle of a drunk.  Expecting a different result by making the same choices was a lesson that was very, very difficult for me to learn.
At 36 years of age, I knew that alcohol had ruined me and any chance I had to lead any sort of a moral, principled life.  With my father retired, he and my Mom were on a vacation to Oshkosh, Wisconsin so he could enter his home built Glass Air airplane in the air show there.  It was his pride and joy, and the culmination of a life long dream of building his own aircraft and soaring in the heavens in it.  
On August 1, 1985, I voluntarily entered the "Phoenix Unit" at Mt. Diablo Hospital in Northern California, seeking treatment for 20 years of alcohol abuse.  I will forever remember the phone call I received three days later on August 4, 1985.  It was my father, calling from Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  My brother, Dick, had told him of my decision to seek some help for my problem.  We chatted for a while, and he told me his plane had won the trophy for "Best Home Built-1985"; he said that they were having a wonderful time on their trip.  And just before we hung up the phone, my Father said to me, "I'm proud of you, son".  Those were the last five words I would ever hear from him.  On August 9, 1985, my Dad & my Mom lost their lives when the Glass Air my father had built, crashed in a field near Rawlins, Wyoming.
I stayed sober for about 90 days, but the power of my addiction and the guilt I harbored for failing my Dad allowed me to suffer a relapse lasting until April 3, 1990 when I sought treatment again.  I have not had a drink since that day.  I may not have grown up to be the man that my Father was, but I know in my heart that he is proud of me now.  And I know that he loves me.  And those feelings are mutual.  And therin lies the lesson..............
   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8mPS0-2Xq8
Every generationBlames the one beforeAnd all of their frustrationsCome beating on your doorI know that I'm a prisonerTo all my Father held so dearI know that I'm a hostageTo all his hopes and fearsI just wish I could have told him in the living yearsCrumpled bits of paperFilled with imperfect thoughtStilted conversationsI'm afraid that's all we've gotYou say you just don't see itHe says it's perfect senseYou just can't get agreementIn this present tenseWe all talk a different languageTalking in defenceSay it loud, say it clearYou can listen as well as you hearIt's too late when we dieTo admit we don't see eye to eyeSo we open up a quarrelBetween the present and the pastWe only sacrifice the futureIt's the bitterness that lastsSo Don't yield to the fortunesYou sometimes see as fateIt may have a new perspectiveOn a different dayAnd if you don't give up, and don't give inYou may just be O.K.Say it loud, say it clearYou can listen as well as you hearIt's too late when we dieTo admit we don't see eye to eyeI wasn't there that morningWhen my Father passed awayI didn't get to tell himAll the things I had to sayI think I caught his spiritLater that same yearI'm sure I heard his echoIn my baby's new born tearsI just wish I could have told him in the living yearsSay it loud, say it clearYou can listen as well as you hearIt's too late when we dieTo admit we don't see eye to eye
 
 

Replies

deleted_user
deleted_user

WOW, I\'m honored to have read this. I missed your previous entry on your mom and will read that next; didn\'t realize you\'d lost them in a common disaster. And how proud you must be to have gone 20 years sober now!

Hugs, Gail
bgoodwin44
bgoodwin44

This Is Beautiful,
Thanks For Sharing...
pathoflife
pathoflife

Joe,

Your admiration for your father is a wonderful reminder of how our parents influence our livesgood, bad, and indifferent. The older we get, the better we understand the reasoning behind many of their expectations and actions. Those last words of how proud he was of you will echo in your soul forevermore and help you to soar in this life. Your story of struggle and recovery is awesome. I\'m so happy that life became all that you desired after you won your battle. And now you are in another battle for survival. Maybe not the same type but certainly just as significant for your future. Blessings to you, Joe. Your posts are always an encouragement to me. TJ
OnMyOwn2010
OnMyOwn2010

Wonderful post...you were certainly blessed with the man God chose as your earthly father...thanks for sharing. ~E~
Daninmn
Daninmn

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Daninmn
Daninmn

Joe,
I know your Dad would be proud of you, Joe. He sounds like someone I would have liked to have known.
There always things that never get said, to the ones we love and we have to accept that.
Take car Joe.
Dan
deleted_user
deleted_user

Heavy,my brother,heavy.As a parent you do know that even tho your kids do maddening things & don\'t listen to your sage advice,you love them.No matter what.You love them.It\'s OK now ,Joe. No need to beat yourself up any more.Your Dad was proud of you.Man to man-he was proud you were his son.Just as proud as you are that he was your father.Remember,that stork could have dropped you anywhere!
Joely
Joely

Joe,

A beautifully written tribute to your father. Aren\'t you so glad that the last words to you were that he was proud of you? Those are words that any child wants to hear from their dad. Thank you for sharing.
I know he would be so proud that you have been sober for 20 years!! I am proud of you!! Love reading your posts.

Hugs, Joely