And If You Did Know?

In Memory of Sharon Michele McAvoy Nichols .:. December 24, 1949 – October 10, 2005

October 31, 2004

Goodbye Dad

Filed under: her words — mark @ 8:46 am

This is one of the hardest entries I have ever made. Yesterday my father died. He had been driving his truck when he just pulled over to the side of the road. A witness told the police that he sat there for a minute or so then pulled back onto the road in a U-Turn. When he pulled out another truck was coming and hit him directly in the side. My father was tossed around and sustained some broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a broken scapula, and head injuries. The head injuries were the problem. He hung on for two days, then yesterday, October 30 at 12:30 p.m. he died. He was 83 years old and not in good health.

Those are the facts, but somehow just seeing them there means so little. My dad was a difficult man in so many ways. He was very angry about his own childhood. His father had beaten him almost every day. My grandfather was severe and very strict. He thougth the way to shape a child into a good citizen was to beat him into submission. What it did to my father was to make him angry and afraid.

My father was very afraid most of the time. He served in World War II and Korea. He was a medic in the Navy and was attached to the Marines so he hit the beaches in a number of battles in the Pacific. He saw a tremendous amount of death and destruction. He rarely talked about his experiences while in the service. But after Korea he came home and never quite fit into society. He struggled with what to do. He had been discharged from the military on a Section 8. This means that he had mental problems associated with emotional problems. When put together with the trauma of having been beaten as a child, I think it was more than he could bear. He never quite figured out what his place in the world was. He tried job after job. He would get frustrated and quit or get fired. He tried his best to be a good father, but having had such a bad role model he had big problems with that as well. The two things I remember him saying often were: “Grow up” and “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” He could be very cruel and punishing. He would be upset at something and suddenly get very violent. He tried to kill my mother a few times, at times where my brother and myself could see it. He was also funny. He had a good sense of humor, at times caustic, but still funny.

I remember once when I was jumping on a trampoline and came down on the back of my neck. He cleared a fence in one jump to come and see if I was okay. I also remember once when I cut my toe with the lawn mower. He came out from under the car he was working on very quickly and came running over.

He once told me that the Soviet Union and the U.S. were heading in the same direction only that they were doing it with a gun butt, and we were doing it with the ballot box. I can see now that he was right. He had some true wisdom.

He never got over his prejudices. He had difficulties with anyone who was not white. He referred to other races in prejorative terms. But to his credit I did not hear this from him until I was about age 17. At that time he used a very prejorative term about an African American. I was taken aback and said I had never heard him say anything like that. He said that he had always felt that way but realized that it was a terrible thing and that he did not want to pass that on to me. I have always admired him for doing that. Another thing I will always admire and be grateful for is his willingness to sit and discuss the past. At one point about 12 years ago I went to Tennessee to visit him. We talked about what it was like when I was a child. He admitted to the abuse and said he was sorry. I have always admired him for that as well. I see this as being very brave and strong.

My dad never came to any of my events. He stayed away from my concerts with the band. He did not come to any of recitals in dance. He just did not do that sort of thing.

The point of this is that my dad was human. He had his strengths and his weaknesses. He could be very difficult, and he could be heroic. He could be strong and brave, and he could be cowardly. He did the best he could under some very difficult circumstances. I will always love and admire him, not because he was perfect, but because he was human.

Thank you dad, something I said to him often especially in recent years. I love you dad, somthing I always said to him. I forgive you dad, something I did get to say. I will miss you dad.

With love, respect, gratitude, and forgiveness. You will always be in my heart.

Comments are closed.