Saturday, October 3, 2009

My dad

My father was my hero when I was a little girl. He was a morning person, as am I, and my mother was a night person. When my sister and I would get ready for school, Daddy was the one who would make our lunches and see us off to the bus. I also remember him washing my hair in the kitchen sink when I was little, but I don't know why that wasn't done when I was taking a bath a night. (Daddy didn't give us baths.)

I was the oldest of six children, but it didn't really seem like a big family. My sister Norma Jean is two-and-a-half years younger than me, and we pretty much grew up together. PJ was not born until I was seven, and the other three were born in close succession starting when I was sixteen. So in essence, the first three girls grew up together, and the second three (my brother and two baby sisters) grew up together also.

Daddy was in the Air Force, and we moved around the entire time I was growing up. I went to high school in Puerto Rico (on the base), Rancho Cordova and Folsom in California, and graduated from Fort Worth, Texas. I didn't get a chance to make long-term friends growing up. I remember my parents and my sisters as being the only real constants in my early life.

Daddy was an enlisted man in the Air Force until the war, and afterwards he received his commission as a second lieutenant. By the time he retired, he was a Captain with a temporary assignment as a Major. I think he retired because he was passed over too many times and was forced out. After retirement, he worked as a TV repairman and did odd jobs with the city of Fort Worth. After I had left home, they bought a house on Lake Worth, across from the Air Force Base, which has since been shut down. He and my mom and three youngest siblings lived from then on in a single home, so different from my experience.

Daddy was a good-looking man, and Mama was a dish when they met in 1941. I was born a year after they married, and we began the typical military family life of following Daddy from place to place. He would occasionally go on TDY (temporary duty) alone somewhere for as long as six months, and then would come home to his family. I remember once when he came back with an English Racer (bicycle) for me, which terrified me. Every once in a while he would sit me on the seat and see if my legs were long enough to ride it. One day they reached, and I began to learn how to ride a bicycle. Although I was scared stiff at the time, I also loved it. By the time I was proficient, nobody could get me off!

Daddy only lived to be 62. He died in 1979 of a heart attack, and Mama died in 1993. She missed him terribly all those years, and when we would talk on the phone she told me all kinds of stories about him that I never knew. Although I idolized him when I was a child, I learned that he was many things I couldn't quite reconcile with the father I loved. For one thing, I learned that he was a lifelong Republican, and Mama was a Democrat! (I'm my mama's girl now.)

I love my family of origin, each and every one of us, as different as we are one from another. Two of my three youngest siblings live in Texas (one married a Canadian and lives up there), Norma Jean is in Florida, and PJ ended up living in Texas as well. I moved from Colorado to Washington state, and so we don't have much opportunity to get together. But I know they love me, and we are all on Facebook, and although some don't use it as much as others, I get to see the family through pictures and stories, and they also get to see my life. Their children (and their children's children) are much more proficient with these things, so I am blessed with connection. And I have you, part of my extended family...


  1. Don't forget he also worked at General Dynamics (now Lockheed) for a number of years after retiring from the Air Force. GD was also across the lake, and he often piloted his boat (GiGi, pronounced "jee-jee") to work. It was cool watching him take off into a strong wind with lots of "white cap" waves on the lake, on his way to the office.

    And while I guess you could technically say Carswell Air Force base was shut down, it was really just converted into the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth (or NAS JRB Fort Worth). There are still plenty of airplanes flying around that beautiful little lake.

  2. So that's where you get your lovely smile from! You are blessed to have such a large family. I enjoyed your post and the pictures of your dad are very good. Not everybody lives to extended age, do they. Both my parents died at age 69.
    Blessings, Star

  3. Buz, see how much your brain can forget? I knew that Daddy worked for GD, but since I wasn't around much then, I plain forgot. I'd fix it, but your comment pretty much takes care of it. Do you know the story about why he loved hot sauce to be so hot? I was going to add that story, but then I found that I don't know it. :-)

  4. Very nice and loving tribute to a wonderful family.

  5. What a terrific story. You are a great story teller. It made me want to know your dad and you were lucky to know him. He died much too young, my mammy died at 64 15 years ago - premature deaths and so sad. A truly great read.

  6. Good job of keeping the memory alive. I love his smile -- and yours!

  7. He was a looker! I always envied those military kids that got to move all over the place. Maybe that's what helped you develop into an adventurer...

  8. A very handsome man with a fantastic smile which I see you inherited. Your post is a lovely tribute to his memory.

    I knew you had to be a first born too. I was the first of three girls and daddy's tomboy. My dad passed away in 1983.

    Great post DJan.

  9. Lovely, DJan. You certainly look like your dad!

    This is a really nice tribute to him. I am sure he would be pleased...

  10. Hey DJ you looked like your Dad! Dads are wonderful, aren't they? Mine is also in the military, and I sometimes get ride in his military jeep, you know the green one, how fun. Very nice tribute...good girl!


  11. I love stories about great dads. Even ones who are Republicans. :) Now THAT made me laugh.

  12. hi..that's nice..hv a nice weekend..

  13. You father was a very handsome young man and you certainly led an interesting life as an Air Force brat. There is something very special about our dads.....heroes, white knights, and our first love (even though he was a Republican). lol

    Thanks for sharing this part of your life with us. BTW, Daddy was a Republican....and heaven forbid, so am I. Yikes!

  14. What a wonderful tribute to your fact your whole family.

  15. We have SO much in Dad was a lifer in the AF too! We moved around a LOT when I was little.
    Once, we thought we were going to be stationed in Spain and my dad came home and said he got his orders changed and that he had to go to Vietnam without us. I was a sophomore in high school then and very worried he would never return. Torn because I was against the war and at the same time, my dad was risking his life there.
    Luckily, he returned safely.
    He became an AF Recruiter and retired and lived until he was 76 and died of a stroke.
    My mom died 4 years ago of brain cancer...we moved her into our home and cared for her until she passed.'
    I also miss them both, soooo much.

  16. Thanks for sharing those wonderful memories of your Dad! He was so handsome! Shocking that he was a Republican! You are the oldest too, my parents basically had two families too..two older, two younger. I was sixteen when my only sister was born.
    My Husband is Retired Military..not easy on a family..but we made it through:)

  17. Your wonderful story brings back memories of my childhood, the daughter in a military family...lots of moving.
    Thanks so much for sharing.
    Sunny :)

  18. What a great tribute! And an adventurous childhood even if it was unstable with all the moving. I've always lived in one state, I don't know what would have been more fun growing up.

    Thanks for including me in your Facebook "family"! -kate

  19. Hi D-Jan,What a moving tribute to a dear father!He was a handsome man!You have a charming smile too.
    Regards the price of my teaset.....hubby had to tell me,I'm a curious wife.hahaha!

  20. You do look like your dad DJan and he was handsome so that’s where you get your looks! My dad died at 65 of unknown causes in 1974 – it seems so long ago – and I guess it is. This was a very nice post about your father.


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