Perspective

I had an inheritance from my father,

It was the moon and the sun.

And though I roam all over the world,

The spending of it’s never done.”

Ernest Hemingway

Egg River

I am an early riser. I don’t sleep all that well these days. Illness, late middle age, and my adorable, annoying cat conspire to disturb each night’s rest. So, I am usually awake when, at five am or so, I receive a text from my youngest son, Isaac, inviting me to breakfast.

He is a building contractor. He lives in the upper Hood River Valley with his wife and two children. The kids, one and four, make for unpredictable nights. One or the other or both may have awakened him. After settling the children, he is ready to eat and get on with his day.

Bette’s Place

There are two restaurants we frequent, Bette’s Place and Egg River. We like the oatmeal with fruit at one. The other is famous for their cinnamon rolls. Most importantly, though, it opens earlier. 

Often, we talk about life in the fast lane of parenting: the sleepless nights; the diaper duty; the child’s loving worship; the financial strain; family stress and worries; the shared joy of a child’s wonder at the world, and the list goes on. It’s a whirlwind to watch, yet I find it difficult to remember the doubts and fears from when I was the parent and he the child. I seem to recall only the fun times. Accordingly, my counsel is always … patience.

Dad and brother Earl (Butch) 1945. We lived on Jesse St. in San Francisco. It was behind the telephone company and it dead ended at Bekins Van and Storage.

As we munch our oatmeal and sip coffee, we are sometimes visited by the ghost of my own father. Like my son, he worked with his hands. Isaac builds houses, my dad was a welder. Dad died young from the complications of alcoholism. Sadly, we never connected as adults. In my teens, I was ashamed of him. My defense mechanism was to tune him out.

I shared my childhood with three older brothers. I felt like a secondary moon in the orbit of their comings of age. About the time they were leaving the house, a younger sister arrived. My perspective then shifted to one of observing my parents cope with that “surprise”.

Like the grandchildren, my siblings and I were the source of much love and some terror for my parents. My mom had strong roots as a third generation offspring of German dairy farmers. Dad, however, was raised as an orphan in Oklahoma and separated from his sister as a child. Dad’s insecurities were engrained at a young age. Eventually, the unsteady foundation of his childhood crumbled under the weight of alcohol.

1985, Me and the boys, Noah was five and Isaac was three.

Nonetheless, he made sacrifices to assure us opportunity in our lives. Opportunities, I might add, that he did not have. Opportunities, furthermore, that I did not appreciate until years later.

Perspective is the reward for living a long life. It erases the pain of the past. It reveals wisdom neglected and forgiveness earned. I see the well being and self confidence of my grandchildren to be the byproducts of good parenting. We did some things right, as did the parents of my daughter-in-law. She and my son pass it along.

So, too, my parents were determined to do right by their kids. My selfish needs as a teenager notwithstanding, I did feel loved and wanted. These days, I finally understand the value of their gifts. And, I am humbled when dad occasionally stops by in spirit … he would have liked Isaac, they could talk about tools.

 

Song for Dad 

 

Latest numbers in The Drill.

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19 responses to “Perspective

  1. I’ve become an early riser as well, and I enjoy this time quite a bit. It is a peaceful period, and for me is the best time to reflect on life. Your writing takes me back to those moments spent with my Dad early in the morning. Makes me feel lucky too ~ nothing quite like growing up a happy kid, and then making those around us have the same opportunities.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wise perspective! I know what it’s like to get up around 5 each morning. Unfortunately, none of my 3 sons are up and wanting to share breakfast. You have much to treasure. Also, you show such love and empathy for your dad. You’re an individual to be admired.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ginger. Empathy is the key word for my Dad. By imagining what he endured as a young man, I can appreciate what he gave the family. That beats resentment for what I felt was withheld.

      Like

  3. What a beautiful routine you share with your son. Conversations seem so much gentler and wiser in the soft early mornings. I love the glimpse into your childhood and the photos are really heartwarming.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Julie. 🤗 Yes, I am fortunate to have these morning visits. It seems so simple: breakfast with Dad. Yet …

    Missing your writing and unique perspective on things.

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  5. A beautiful piece John, always enjoy your perspective. My parents at 96 and 93, are still alive. I have had many years to reflect on my upbringing and to see how generations are capable of making change happen. Lots of food for thought on these subjects. So nice you have Isaac and grandkids nearby. So glad you continue to write and explore. Thanks. Sally LaVenture

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved Uncle Jim he was my favorite but then I was very young and didn’t see any flaws. He would hide a koolaid packet in his pocket and we were always looking and he was teasing.Love the memories of California visits. Thanks for rekindling .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Renee! What a nice surprise and lovely anecdote. Never heard my dad referred to as Uncle Jim. He had a sweet disposition. I am glad you have fond memories of him and your California relatives. 😎

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  8. As a fellow early riser, I can almost smell the coffee and cinnamon rolls! How lucky and blessed you are to have your son and that special time together. Perspective… Empathy….Forgiveness….Gratitude you’ve got it all and a beautiful gift of passing in on. Thank you, I love reading your thoughts. Nancy (aka Scottyjo)

    Liked by 1 person

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