Travels with Dad
—-This is a story of a complex relationship with my father, Al, who I came to love and understand after he was diagnosed with dementia.—-
I remember my mother telling me, when I was a young adult, that one of her biggest surprises and frustrations about raising children was the realization that she didn’t have full control of us, and at such young ages. We were all in elementary school when this occurred to her. She reflected on her own upbringing, and recalls being “controlled” by her parents (not in a bad way), until she got married at the age of 22.
Both of my parents went to a small Catholic school, run exclusively by the Sisters of St. Joseph, in the 40s and 50s. The times and the setting were different. There wasn’t a lot of outside influences. The community was small and close knit.
The town we lived in grew at alarming speeds just after we moved there. Shortly before our arrival, there was only one school building for all grades. To emphasize the potential of outside influences on children growing up where I did, there were 800 students in my graduating class. “Outside” Influences were plentiful…….good and bad. The bad ones were the most alluring.
My big sister, who was a year older than me, and very worldly (at least in my eyes), seemed to always be searching for exciting things to do. I naturally looked up to her, and followed her. The filters for both of us, between right and wrong were pretty non-existent. Some serious trouble unfolded. My mother said one day, in complete frustration and hopelessness, “If I could, I would trade you 2 girls in for 15 boys.”
Wow! But, that still didn’t stop us. We ran amok.
Our refusal of us to conform to the rules was something that my father wasn’t willing or going to put up with.
The troubles began.