Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day 2008

My Daddy- Kenneth Gordon Hultin
Music- Dante`'s Prayer, by Loreena McKennitt
(see playlist on sidebar)

My father was one of those 'in-between' types of people. He was a late child of his parents who were rather old when he was born- at age 17, he went into the Army and was sent overseas in WWII. Not having graduated high school, he was very much still a boy when he shipped out and even after he came back, he hid his pain by donning the costume of a 'class clown' so to speak.......Dad always wanted to succeed, and he came back home to a job at the press where his father worked and married as his family wanted him to.

In the late 50's, when the US economy was still booming with the post WWII and Korean War flush of prosperity, he and his very pretty bride, my mom, were part of a generation of US citizens who thought that the money would never run out- they bought lots of 'stuff', and spent and kept spending even after the signs that the post-war flush was fading, as did much of the rest of the country. When the post-war economy hit bottom, guess who got blamed for not being able to provide for his family in the manner to which they had become accustomed? Mom had to go back to work- the promise that he would always take care of her was broken through no fault of his own. They began to live on credit and got that second mortgage just to keep up appearances. Their divorce was devastating for me.

His PTSD went unnoticed to the rest of the family- they didn't acknowledge things like that in those days- he bagan to drink heavily to hide the pain he felt. He was fired from his job of 20+ years, and moved out of the house to find another job. Mom and I were left to close the house down and sell it- at least that is what I remember.

He began to borrow off of his inheritance- the family treated him as a failure, and he believed them because we are all he had. It always seemed to me as though they helped him with resentment, rather than compassion. And he sank even more deeply into alcohol. Even though he found friends and companions in his new life after the divorce, he still could not hold a job down. He remarried briefly to a wonderful woman and she divorced him because he still had no confidence in himself and could not hold a job.

Then he found AA.

The change in my father was amazing. He made amends to me and mine for all he had done to us when he was drinking. And he found God. He began to go to church. As far as I know, he went to many folks and did the same, but when it came to mom, she would never forgive him or accept his act of taking respionsibilty for his actions that hurt her so. At least, mom has never expressed anything that indicated such attempts at healing took place.

Even today, and even though I keep alcohol to a bare minimum, I use the principles of AA in my life to work through the old hurt and pain that keep me held back from what I can truly achieve in this life. Food is my addiction, and Al-Anon is for families torn apart by what alcohol abuse has wrought in their lives.

Late in his life, when I had married and had children, daddy and I were finally able to connect. He had a woman friend who was in worse psychological shape than he was, but her family treated him as one of them- with no if's, and's or but's. He focused more on me and what I had to offer and we had that illusive reconnection that I had experienced as a child. My girls loved their 'Om-Pa', but seemed to ignore his friend and that was actually a good thing- I found it very hard to deal with someone who was even more damaged emotionally then he was.

His health failed quickly and he became infirm in his last years.

Daddy passed away on Sept. 26, 1998, and I keep his memory sacred in my heart. The only thing I have left of him is his Bible. He was a very talented and artistic man, a dreamer with no confidence in himself to follow his own bliss. He loved these mountains so and although he did not make it back one more time to see them, I'd like to believe he's around someplace nearby me- sometimes I can hear the piano and his jazz records or as I watch the water over the rocks as they come out of the mountains. He's at peace now.

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