A Father-Man, Quite a Dad

English: The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor
English: The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Arizona's mooring quay
Arizona’s mooring quay (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

South Pacific WW2, Dad was on a smaller ship … I am troubled and embarrassed that I cannot remember the type of ship he was on.  I do remember him telling me that divers would head down, cut cable / chains that held mines in place for ships and/or subs … and when the mines came up to the surface, and when the divers were clear, a sharpshooter would fire on the mine, to detonate the mine.

Some things happened out there, in the South Pacific, that he will not talk about.  Mom told me, a long time ago, that they did a trip to Hawaii.  Dad went to the Pearl Harbor Memorial, then, the USS Arizona, and he wept like she had never seen him weep.  My dad never did weep much.

But when he wept it was intense, albeit quiet … very quiet … but unmistakably powerful coexisting with unmistakable humility.  The idea … that one could stand at the memorial, knowing that down below in the merciless sea were the remains of 1,102 men.  They were there when the bombs were dropped at Pearl Harbor.

Part of my dad’s catharsis had to do with his perceived guilt manifested in a question (my paraphrase).  “Why is it that those men, down there, died, when I lived?”  There are no suitable answers for my dad.

Dad coached basketball and football, until an opening came up for a principal position at a high school.  The stories were great, about his coaching career.  Dad said that he had an agreement with one coach his team played against (football, small towns in NW Louisiana): whatever team was losing, depending on how bad they were getting “whooped on”, the coach would stand up on the bench and wave a pole with a white flag … so that the coach of the winning team could see the white flag.  The white flag just meant that it was time to send in the third-string players.

Dad is not afraid to tell me when I am messing up.  And yet, he is known for his compassion and his likeability.  I guess that is enough.  Because, paradoxically, there is never enough that can be said about my dad.

I do love my dad, but we don’t talk much about that sort of thing.  Which brings me full circle: I’ve said enough, other than acknowledging my dad is a good man … and I’ll never become 1/4 of the man my dad is.


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