Ninety-six years ago today, my dad was born. He was the oldest of four kids, who got split up to live with grandparents when his father was killed by a train. My dad was 13 years old. He and his sister Mary went to live with one set of grandparents, while another sister, Helen, and his baby brother John went to love with another set.
My parents got married the day after Christmas in 1941, when he had just joined the Army after Pearl Harbor. They moved from base to base for a while, where - as my dad used to say - he "flew a desk." I've posted pictures of him in his Army uniform here, and I can imagine that he liked the discipline and organization that Army life provided, even if it could be restrictive in other ways. After he was out of the Army and he and my mom had a family, he always worked in the trucking industry. He died when I was thirteen years old, from liver cancer, at a time when there were few real treatments for that disease, and it was more or less always a death sentence. So I have lived most of my life without him, but I think of him every single day, and feel like I was lucky, not just because I knew him for 13 years, but because I knew from a young age that he wouldn't be around forever, and appreciated the time he was here.
The Tim's father was born on this day seventy-nine years ago. He was a Navy man, having piloted fighter jets in World War II in the Pacific. After the war, he and my mother-in-law started living their life together, having five children by the time they were finished. He worked for years in the steel mills, and had barely retired when he was diagnosed with skin cancer. He died in 1989. Of course, my knowledge of him was only as an adult, but from all accounts, he had always been the same - kind, quiet, funny, and a calming influence overall. He loved nothing more than a corny joke or a pun, and since I was a new audience, pulled out all of his old routines to try on me. I also love corny jokes and puns, so we got along really well! I think of him often, and miss him most when we are watching a funny TV show or movie, or someone comes up with a truly groan-worthy pun. I wish he was still around to make us all laugh.
And, finally, about 18 years ago today, our crazy calico Tess was born. "About" since she was a stray that we found, and to be honest, we "assigned" her August 21st as her birthday. I knew my dad would be honored, and The Tim's dad would be amused and pleased if nothing else. We always had at least a cat as a pet growing up, but Tess was truly one of a kind. We suspected that her previous owners had abused her, because she was quick to react inappropriately, and her front teeth were sheared across her upper jaw. She could be terribly mean to us and to the other kitties, but over time she settled down, and was actually truly sweet. We used to joke that she ran a jihad and was planning to a) take over the world, and b) have us killed. She just had the most unique personality of any cat ever. She died after a bout with cancer, and just as in life, did not go gently into that good night. I think of her so much, and miss seeing her, petting her, hugging her, and seeing what new thing would annoy her on any given day!
As a result, August 21 is always a little bittersweet at our house. But then August 22 comes along, with two wedding anniversaries, and another one on August 25. So today is followed by happy occasions, which means that we can't take too much time to dwell on any sadness. Sometimes I think the universe works it out that way on purpose.
Just so you know, there's a space that only you can fill.
Just so you know, I loved you then -
I guess I always will.