I am always reminded on holidays about those folks estranged from their families. It can make the day so much the tougher. I know this because it is true for me.
I was raised in a wonderful loving family. I did not do well in that family. It was not the families fault. If there be fault it lies with me. Nobody else.
I spent my youth causing a significant amount of embarrassment and pain to my mother and father. My brothers, too. I became the ubiquitous black sheep. Every family has one. I was it in mine.
I attained this dubious honor through hard work, commitment and perseverance. I survived all kinds of roadblocks. I was loved, first of all. Second, I was offered support by my mother and most certainly, my father. And third, they never gave up on me. Dad, especially, was always there at the ready to help.
In point of fact, he provided such economic support for me and mine that I don’t know if we could have survived without his help.
I remember once I was having a tough time and at 85, or thereabouts, he drove the 40-plus miles to my house to sit on my couch and say with intensity, enthusiasm and unflinching support, “you’re better than this. I love you and I know that you know that.” During that visit, I welled up and muster this: “I am not an honest man.” He replied; “Neither am I.” He was a remarkable man.
I am reminded, thankfully so, of him because every so often strangers say kind things about him. He was an actor of some accomplishment and people remember him with fondness. He did something else, besides keep me and mine financially sound. He kept me in touch with my brothers.
Never close to my brothers, Dad made sure that around holidays, that all of us would at lease attempt to be together. I haven’t spoken to my brothers for months. They are good people. Happy in their lives, which appear to be full of family and friends. We are not close. My Dad tried, but he is now gone, and things always revert back to life’s default position.
Back to my father. He wanted so much for his family to be united. I always thought it was because of his ego. (There may be some truth to that because he wanted the families from his previous marriages – there were two – to be included with his birth family. Not going to happen.) In retrospect, it didn’t matter. I miss my Dad.
He used to say that I looked up to him too much. He was probably right. In many ways, my father was my god. I know that sounds strange but it was his financial and emotional support that kept me going. It’s true. When he died, my god was gone. No longer around to take care of me. I was 59 when he died. Still living off my dad. Needing my dad. Not admitted it to anybody. But, oh so true.
I have a wife and two grown kids. They are good people. I am a loner by design and that has kept my family separated from big gatherings of others who fill the rooms of life with laughter and song, as they say. My wife is a very sociable person. Many friends. Strong faith in a Christian God. Active life.
I am not that way. My socializing comes from an organization that is not an organization. I am a loner by design and I don’t know how to undertake a redesign. Well, that’s not true. I know what’s required. I just don’t want to do it. Too much work.
I do remember one holiday when was newly relocated off the streets and working at a small daily newspaper. I was living in a room where I had to share the bathroom with a fella who lived in an adjacent room. He smelled funny. Nice fella. He just smelled funny.
In an event, I was living in this small room, making a very little amount of money at my full-time job as a reporter at this small daily newspaper. I was miserable.
Both my brothers were doing great. Making money hand-over-fist. Of course, my Dad was doing great. My mother was doing fine. All were doing fine. I was miserable. I was plagued with envy, resentment and character assassination. I was even aiming it at my father.
This particular holiday, I was stuck in my room. I forget the reason. But no family, which I resented anyway and no friends. You don’t have friends when you’re a loner by design.
I think it was Thanksgiving. That’s important because my little room did not have a kitchen, but I did have a hot plate and a toaster oven. I cooked entire turkey dinner; turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing and apple pie for dessert. I sat in my room, alone, and ate my Thanksgiving dinner. Miserable. What can I say: A loner by design.
My heart goes out to those who are without family or friends today, on this Fourth of July, 2012. To those alone today, maybe feeling lost, you need to know you’ve strength beyond measure. You have honor and integrity. Yes, you do. You are not alone. I salute you! Happy Independence Day. Talk soon.