An old man’s father

MY FATHER WAS born in 1915, two years before the United States entered World War I.

I was born 29 years later in the penultimate year of World War II. Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo were still walking the Earth.

My father and I were very much alike, the good and the bad. He was a newspaperman. Me too. I probably wouldn’t have been one had he not blazed that trail. I wonder what I would have chosen otherwise — or what would have chosen me, more likely.

I never heard him call himself a journalist even though he had a journalism degree. I’ve never called myself a journalist either. I’ve never even taken a journalism course.

My former coworkers used to say, “And it shows.” Hilarious.

I consider the term journalist pompous.

He was 6′, 3″ tall, and so was I. I’m probably not anymore. They say you shrink a bit in time, and I’ve not measured myself in decades. But I’m still probably taller than you. He was a good-looking guy, and so was I, something that gives you a leg up in life.

I’m still not chopped liver in the geriatric category.

dad
Him

We both retired early. He got out at 49 due to an inheritance. I fled at 55 because I was eligible and also because some of that inheritance had dripped down to me. My maternal great-grandfather, a very successful farmer named Dard Moree, owned a huge chunk of Worth County, Georgia, at one time.

My grandmother remembered Dard paying the field hands from a travel trunk stuffed with cash.

My father wanted to be a writer all his life. I never did, though I discovered I had talent after I retired. He was very good but too painstaking. After he got out of the Army in 1945, instead of returning to newspapering, he moved the family to my mother’s parents’ farm in Southwest Georgia, near a town called Sylvester.

He constructed a small writing room apart from the main house and started typing short stories for the pulp magazines that were very popular in those days before television distracted everyone. Simultaneously, he became a chicken farmer.

But neither the writing nor the poultry panned out and, by 1951, he was back in the newspaper business down in Florida where we relocated.

When he retired at 49, he and my mother moved back to the farm in Southwest Georgia because it was theirs by then. He started writing again, but poetry, not prose. He was very good. He finally focused on haiku, and became quite “famous” in the small haiku world. Two of his slim books are listed on Amazon, one for the incredible price of $58.

I too have a better than average skill at prose. I’m lousy at poetry. I’ve never published anything on paper, just online. My favorite is Dark Girl in the Blue Dress.

Where my father sweated the proverbial bullets over his writing, I never did. It seemed to flow out seamlessly when the inspiration hit, and it almost always struck me as I awoke at dawn, the ideas. My scant writing career took place during the decade of my 60s, nothing before or after. I don’t know why. The Muse was born late and then she died.

My father drank too much, but he quit in his mid-50s. I also drank too much, and I also quit in my mid-50s. FYI: Life improves spectacularly when you stop boozing.

In the 1980s, my sister once shared a joint with him, but he loathed it, and never did it again. I, on the other hand, am quite fond of mind-altering substances.

We were never close. I didn’t like him much though others did.

He died suddenly at age 75 in 1991. And I turn 75 next month.

16 thoughts on “An old man’s father

  1. Sudden cardiac arrest? Car/pedestrian accident? Plane crash? My hubs is 81 and while he is not suicidal, with the state of the world and its atmosphere (negative), he sometimes wishes he could fold up his tent and disappear into that good night.

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  2. Don’t create a pattern where one does not exist.
    Lots of similarities do not a clone create.
    Smile a lot and remember how things used to be (feel free to think they were much better than they actually were).

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  3. One day at a time. We all think more of the end the closer we get. We have more time to think of these things, and I enjoy having that time. Positive thoughts, my friend, positive thoughts, no negativity.

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  4. Don’t give up. I’ll be 91 next week. I live alone, drive, and have to shop for groceries this morning. I’m slowing down a little, but up at 6 and to bed at 10:30 p.m. Phil

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  5. You and your dad do bear a striking resemblance, and I’ll agree with your assessments on looks, etc. As for writing running in the family, I get it from my mother’s side. Her father was an editor at Copenhagen’s biggest financial newspaper, and her brother was also a journalist. I wish I could write fiction, and think about it from time to time. Some day, I’ll get off my duff and write something. Maybe a blog post?

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where I spend more time thinking about writing than actually writing.

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  6. I actual read this numerous times as I wondered what’s going on in the mind of Felipe? To compare the age span of our parents and our own life span is normal thinking to a degree. How we live our life is many times due to circumstances beyond our control, but as we age and have far more thinking time we tend to view our accomplishments in a variety of ways. That old friend called time does bring in self reviews.

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    1. Pat: Self reviews become more numerous as we get older. At least it does in my case.

      I just noticed your comment from two days ago was in the Trash file. No idea why. Sorry about that.

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      1. I am in agreement with you as to the thoughts we acquire as we get older. Right now I am dealing with my own stupidity as knowing I am allergic to poison ivy, oak or sumac I still go outside to clean up a fence. The end result is I am once again paying the price, but with age comes the mind’s ability of self reflection and a review of our choices and circumstances. Between your writing ability and your art of photography I think you just hit a natural lull. The media currently is more gloom and doom than positive points. Fortunately for myself, I am exposed to a generation lifestyle of 4 generations constantly. Talk about mind-boggling as at 78 I am set in stone on some values and take it down each generation to the level of an opinionated 11-year-old, and I know I am from another era. You’re full of life and a challenge to those tomorrows.

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