“Every family has one weird relative. If you don’t know who it is, it’s probably you.”
I find it interesting that my dad chose to write about certain things in great detail, but failed to elaborate on the things I would have considered life-changing. For example, he barely mentions his accident, but uses three pages to describe what a summer afternoon felt like when he was a boy.
Don’t get me wrong; I love reliving those summer days with him, but I understand my mother’s lamenting when she confided in me that Dad didn’t spend a lot of time writing about her, or his kids for that matter.
I mentioned it to my fiance, who pointed out that Dad was probably writing this story for his family, and maybe he didn’t think he needed to waste time on things we already knew. It totally made sense.
Being able to see life though my dad’s eyes has given a new perspective about who I thought he was. I knew my mom didn’t like to write, and couldn’t anyway because of her shoulder problems, so I asked her if I could video tape her story instead. She agreed, and we spent a few afternoons and evening together working on it. The video tape after Dad’s story is mom’s rendition of when they met and live early on in their marriage.
I wish I had some way of knowing who my ancestors really were, other than bits and pieces I find on Ancestry.com and other Family Tree sites. But for now, I guess I’ll have to fill in my own gaps.
I talked a little about Dad’s glass eye before, but I guess I’m surprised he didn’t talk more about it. It was just something that just “was,” kinda like my bum leg. You learn to deal with it.
“Tom,” Dad told me one time, recalling the devastating pain of the surgery that removed his eye. “I’ve never had anything hurt so bad in my whole life, before or since. And remember, I was there int he dark, the good eye bandaged through it all. It was a wonderful relief when they removed those bandages three days later, and I could still see. A little fuzzy at first, but I wasn’t going to be blind.”
I think I wrote earlier, I really expected a bigger reaction on his part when I told him 20 years ago that I’d donated my eyes to the Lion’s Club. I think I expected him to pledge his peeper–like father, like son–but his thinking might have gone something like this, “I’ve only got one eye, and by golly, I’m gonna hang on to it!”
Through the years, I’ve had a special affection for one-eyed guys. Albert Thompson lived over in the old Central Park district, right next door to Ray Lemmon, I think. I guess I never knew how Albert lost his. He was an only child, unless there was an older-older sister.
And we lived door to Mr. Coates on 6th Avenue. He made me a pair of neat stilts and his daughter, Ruth May, was my puppy love. Although the first time i saw her I thought she was a sissy boy in a brown snow-suit, with one of those matching helmets that buttoned under the chin.
She told me her carpenter father was playing Mumbledy Peg with a jack-knife as a kid; threw it up, looked up at it, and took it in his eye, where it stayed.
I just heard Mom in the back of my mind, “Thomas Patrick, can’t you find anything better to talk about? I’m about ready to vomit!”
I actually thought there was more to write about, regarding Dad’s bad eye. But he could kid about it. He said, “Son, I can really see better than you can.”
“Come on, Dad.”
“No, really. You can only see one of my eyes. I can see two of yours!”