Friday, August 24, 2012

Leveler of Us All: Recalled Reflection on My Late Father

Gravestone of My Estranged Father

Along with the details of Uncle Jarrell's funeral, I received the above image from my Uncle Cran, along with these words explaining that Aunt Virginia took the photo:
Just before the graveside service [for Jarrell], Virginia and I located Bradley's grave, and here is a photo of the headstone that [Bradley's wife] Dorothy placed there: Virginia made this.
Some readers may have read words that I posted about my father six years ago on this blog
I . . . recall his method of toughening me up for life and making sure that I became self-reliant. Only five years old, I was playing barefoot outside with other boys while my father stood talking to some neighbors who were laying concrete for their patio. A dump truck parked in their driveway contained sand for the cement mix, and as the day grew progressively hotter with the sun climbing ever higher in the sky, heating the streets, the sidewalks, the driveway, the ground, and the sand in the dump truck where I happened to be playing, the soles of my feet started to burn.

I climbed down from the truck, burning my feet even more on its hot metal, and ran to my father, asking him to pick me up. He refused.

"But my feet are burning," I told him, hopping first on one foot and then on the other.

"Go home, put some shoes on," he retorted, not offering to help.

I went, running alone from shade to shade, until I reached our empty house, where I rinsed my feet with cold water to quench the fire...

I asked nothing of my father after that, which was perhaps his intention, and I grew up without his influence, which was perhaps not his intention.
That last remark wasn't quite right, for he did press me rather forcefully toward self-reliance, and that's certainly an influence -- though the type of self-reliance he forced on me left him without other kinds of influence.

Anyway, from the photograph, I see that his wife Dorothy is still living. They seem to have been married about 23 years when he died -- a happy marriage, I am told. So much of life's happiness depends upon finding the right partner, and my father appears to have found the right one after searching for a few years. I'm also told that his step-children liked him. I suspect he employed other methods for teaching them self-reliance.

Odd, how things turn out, but as is said, life goes on . . . until it meets the leveler of us all.

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10 Comments:

At 8:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gonna tread kinda heavily here my friend - but I have never been spoken of (that I know - unless there's a blog-post out somewheres) as such a "whoopie influence" myself.

Sometime half year ago you posted on something outta the blue - and whether coincidentally, serendipitously, whatever, I can't definitively say. All I know was you presented in a post the best of "hopes" for the two concerned.

At just past noon this very day my time, I received a text message (yup, me who seven months ago had never replied to one nevermind tapped one out) anyway the text I read was on a subject I knew something of - but I was very, very reluctant to convey the specifics. My problem was - I did not know.

I'd known of course the possibilities of one thing or another but neither of those were so terrible I'd be reluctant to study the possiblities. However/Whatever the result.

Today's textflurry made manifest, my decision to test the limits of accepting was the correct one.

Of course I cannot guess the mind of another, much less when there're multiples of minds considering the equations of which would be for the best, which for the worst, which for the middle.

All I know is do the best you can.

Of course I've the luxury of my own experiences in interactions with others - and my own considerations as to what I should do - with whatever mathmatical formula as it turned ultimately to be. But of course I was, as is well-known within your group, lousy at the subject.

Anyways, two things - first explaining my exchanged texts - while I'm likely fine however - I'm not sure what I might discover is too good for the other.

Second - and to you more specifically, recall the our high-school era Clint Eastwood film The Outlaw Josie Wales? or somesuch?

Anyway the character Lone Watie played by Chief Dan George utters a line containing the word:

"Endeavor."

My dear friend Jeff, sometimes there are memories of people we've placed "as a child" stuff on when the window we were looking through was that glass seen darkly.

There's lots of stuff I don't wish Jeff, some few that I do that don't involve me winning the lottery.

One thing I do wish for (and notarize by placing my full name on the Net) is that somehow to whatever degree is possible, Arrive at Peace.

Herschel Ducker

 
At 8:48 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Herschel. I think I know what you mean.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff,
Please accept my empathy, for, as you and Herschel know, Nese, Micah, and I grew up with an absentee father as well. Mom divorced him in the early 60s. He made infrequent visits over the years usually showing up drunk or well on his way to being drunk. I harbored a ton of detest for the man for many many years. In the early 80s we re-connected in Little Rock after my first child was born. He had gotten off the drink and seemed to be doing well at the time. I still was wary of the past and did not allow myself to fully engage with him or his current wife. In October of 1985 I moved to northwest Arkansas and began my career with Walmart. In May of 1986 Dad suffered a major stroke and passed away. I have never forgotten how he abandoned us, however; I am also grateful to have seen him happy and well before he died. It is a conflict of emotions which has not gone away, even after 26+ years.

Jason

 
At 9:10 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Jay. I had always wondered about your situation. Odd that none of us ever inquired.

But I recall being embarrassed by by my circumstances, so maybe I figured you were by yours, too, and thus didn't ask.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My father had always been dead drunk, always with a bottle of vodka or cheap wine in his hand, surrounded by his red-faced buddies, but strangely enough he influenced me a great deal. My conservative leanings as well as my interests in all kinds of fighting sports, athletics and "love" towards my local football (soccer) team were passed on me by him (along with certain undesirable psychological defects :) and they all have remained strong throughout my life. He even stimulated my disgust towards alcohol. But that one unintentionally :) Interestingly enough he didn't seem to have any influence on my older brother. At least nothing positive.

Jacek

 
At 4:13 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

My father must have had some genetic influence on me, for people always said that I looked like he did.

I never could see that very clearly because even after I grew up, he was much bigger, much stronger, much more athletic, and much better looking.

Whether there were any deeper similarities, I can't say, for I didn't know the man well.

There seem to be a lot of failed fathers in this world . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think to some point we are all failed. Disappointed. I am, as I have troubles to influence my son in the fields I view as important, mainly sports. I do spend much time exercising, but he's no interest in it whatsoever. It's usually more difficult, though, with adopted kids, as they carry different genes. Also Korean culture has too much impact on him and it bothers me, too.
I'd no problem however to forgive my father for all his mistakes he made on his path of life. The more I observe myself and others, the more understanding I am towards him, and I learned to laugh at things that made me cry back then.

Jacek

 
At 12:09 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I know what you mean about our own failure as fathers. I guess we have to keep in mind that our sons and daughters are just as much individuals as we are.

As for my own father . . . well, he was dealt a difficult hand -- five young boys and a troubled wife -- but he had a hand in the dealing, and he neglected his children by his absence.

But I have more understanding for him than I once did, for I see my own, many failures.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:05 PM, Blogger Renee Sutherland said...

I find it funny in an odd sort of way that we realize that our own parents failed us in some way. Its not until much later on in life that we realize others parents had imperfections too. Some how I think childhood would have been easier had I know my father wasn't the only one who thought drink was the answer to everything.

 
At 5:30 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I find out a lot about my father from my own imperfections and failures.

Good to hear from you.

Jeffery Hodges

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