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Father Son Road Trip back on the Road, Part I

12 February 2005

So it turns out that my sister pulled through for me and arranged for my mom to be picked up by my Aunt Debbie, and come visit my sister for the weekend. That means the father-son trip is on. I’m typing this in the motel room in Calamesa, California (roughly 12 miles outside of Banning, where my aunt lives). Today we started our drive from Fremont at about 11:30, and got into town at 7:30PM, so about a eight-hour trip to get here. It was too late to visit my great-aunt Norma. As it turns out, Norma is on a schedule tomorrow, so I’m likely to only get to spend a few hours with her before she’s got to move on with her day, and we have to head home. But, this trip was not really much about Norma anyhow. I did learn some things about her, however, from my dad. She was in the air force, achieved the rank of Lt. Colonel, was offered a job at the pentagon and would have been promoted to General, but decided to decline because it required her to re-up for another ten years, and she originally went into the military to pay for school. She went to USC and graduated Summa Cum Laude in Cinematography. She produced many films for the military. I’m sure I’ll find out more when we meet tomorrow for breakfast.
What I have gotten from the trip, however, is a new appreciation for my dad. We talked for a long time on the way down about his work, and some of the stuff he’s been doing for work. I always used to tune my dad out as he would talk about what he’s doing for work, but really I do enjoy how he shares his work with me, and I love to hear how his mind works. My dad is an incredibly intelligent man who is just learning how to stand up for himself in his work. He’s come up with so many processes and innovations for the companies he’s worked for, and if he had patented them, he’d be a rich man today. I love the way he gets so into describing his job to me, and I realize that he’s one of the reasons I’ve been so scientifically interested in my life. Also on the trip, I got some insight into his inner life, and I learned a lot about the eight years he spent in Los Angeles during his college and post-college years. I heard a lot about my Uncle Russ that died in ’70, before I was even conceived. I got a view on how close they were, the time they spent together, and how that loss affected my dad as a young man in his mid-twenties, losing a brother-in-law, and a best friend. I learned about my dad’s relationship to his father, and his father to his father’s father. It turns out my great-grandfather died at 44 of a heart attack, and my grandfather disappeared from my dad’s life in the late sixties. A long tradition of fathers not having fathers, I see my dad in a whole new perspective. He fought hard to form a stable household, and did his best to be as involved as he could, while providing for his family. I may have personal complaints about my father’s emotional unavailability, but I think that he’s done a lot with a limited amount of material. His brothers and sisters became drug addicts or codependent or religious fanatics, or sometimes all three. My dad kept a stable, rational, loving and nurturing home life the best he knew how. It may not have been perfect, and it’s certainly not the model that I am emulating in my own family, but I thank him for doing what he could, and at a lot of times at a sacrifice to his own personal well-being.
I think above all, I’m starting to really appreciate my father for who he is, and what are relationship is today, instead of focusing on what he could be and isn’t, and what I feel he wasn’t or isn’t. Okay, sure, he’s not perfect, but I am really proud of him and how far he’s come. He’s still got issues, and he’s still got problems. But, I can still love and appreciate him for who he is today.
For more news, tune in to part II

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