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About My Dad

29 Dec

I have been remiss over the last couple of weeks, the only original thought posts I have created have been the “How I Feel Today” posts, and while informative, and sometimes light-hearted, they don’t reek of my normal talkative self.   I guess it’s a case of writers’ semi-block.  I have reblogged a couple of emails, and some dynamite posts from other bloggers (with some heartfelt prologues) but again nothing original.  This first paragraph is an effort to get my motor up and running.  I feel kinda like an ice breaker, I am just churning away, breaking up big chunks of thoughts into paragraphs, only to throw them in the mental trash can. Kinda like how an Ice Breaker will just plow thru the ice breaking it up and leaving the broken ice in its’ wake.  Just not as productive.

I have music blasting in my ear as I write this; Nickelback’s Next Contestant is slamming into my Dr Dre headphones. I am sure that will help stir up the creative aspect of my head. Soft sad smile, I do believe the music has done the trick, I now know what this post will be about (though it took 7 songs to get to this point). I want to write about my Dad, and you will be the ones’ I will share my story. Over the 18 months that I have been blogging I have read at least seven different Tributes to Fathers.  Some of these tributes were about fathers’ still with us, some of the fathers have passed on, some had divorced the mothers’ of the blog author,  one was written about a father the author didn’t know, and her mother didn’t know either and that was one of the most touching tributes I have ever read. 

Dad (William Joseph Hamilton) was born on Dec 1, 1925 in Herrin Illinois, where he lived pretty much until he joined the Navy during the latter part of World War II.  From all that I clearly remember and stuff I can surmise, Dad was a great student (the Honor Roll all the time) and was a big time track star.  I remember one time going thru a box (of his stuff) that had a ton of memorabilia from his youth.  He must have gotten it from his mother’s house after she passed.  But the box had several years of his report cards, some newspaper clipping from his track star days, and a clipping of when he joined the navy, a few snapshots, and other collectables that his mom must have kept. I have no idea in the world if any of this information exists today, and if it does, who has it?  My sister remembers an album with all manner of photos and other collectibles of dad growing up, but she has no idea where this may be or like the box of collectibles I found, if it still exists.

Dad was discharged from the Navy in Baltimore Maryland, where he worked a variety of factory jobs in the post war environment, while also attending college.  He also met Mom in Baltimore and that is where they were married (on 02/24/49).  Mom was a nurse who graduated from John Hopkins College of Nursing.   I was the first (of 6) born I came 9 months and a day after they were married. 

I am going to share what few positive memories I have of my dad.  The single most important memory I have of my dad goes back to when I was a tiny person, no more than 4 or 5.  We were living in Baltimore, MD and it was the middle of winter, it was very cold.  Dad had taken me to an Auto show, we were coming back from the show, and on the icy street my dad (who was carrying me) slipped and fell, there was so much ice that I began to slide toward a drain at the curb.  My dad scrambled to grab me before I slid into the drain.  He had done this with a broken arm, which happened during the fall.  The most important thing my dad did for me was not naming me William Joseph Hamilton, JR. he had been called Billy Joe, all his young life and hated it, I truly can appreciate that, just as I truly appreciate him not sharing his name with me.  I also remember dad coming to every JV football I played in. Dad loved golf, and we would play together though these aren’t all positive memories because I too loved golf.  He loved going to the stock car races, another thing I love, and those were all positive memories.  Sometimes it was just him and I, sometimes it was the entire family, and sometimes it was just us boys.  One of my brothers remembers him going camping with him several times, these were Boy Scout events, but the brother has positive memories from those trips.  Dad loved to read, and was very well read. He was an intellectual, and knew it and bragged about how smart he was.  

As kids we play two-hand touch on the street in front of our home, from time to time one of the neighborhood dads would join the game, and dad did as well.  Our fifty yard line was marked by a fire hydrant, it was 2 feet in bounds, and you avoided it at all costs.  One afternoon dad forgot, and ran dead into that fire hydrant, he busted the hell out of his shin, he never played again, and nobody missed him.  Another trademark experience with dad, were the car rides to nowhere.  He would draft any available kid to go on a car ride with him.  These rides lasted 2 or 3 hours and dad just drove around, no destination, the radio on his favorite channel, no talking, no explanation, and dad was the worst driver on record.  Sigh, those were some of my favorite memories of dad.       

Folks, it kinda goes off the rails at this point. I am sure that as you read that last paragraph, maybe even read between the lines, but you most likely were thinking, something along the lines, wow that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.  It wasn’t. Those were the good times.  Dad was an abuser; he physically, emotionally and mentally abused each of us kids.  He was much more physical with us boys, but my sister paid as well, from the emotional abused reaped upon her. Abusing was what he did quite well, he couldn’t keep a job, he couldn’t be there when he was needed, and he ran through money like he won the lotto, but damn was he good at abusing.  I am not going to go into any of the horror stories, it would serve no purpose and it wouldn’t make me feel better, and to be perfectly honest I only remember in any detail a couple. Also being honest, I thought that was how it was supposed to be in the 50’s and 60’s.  I did spend a couple of hours talking to 2 of my sibling about this, and those conversations confirmed thoughts that had been running thru my head for a long time. 

Dad passed away on Feb 16, 2001.  I didn’t shed a tear during the viewing or the funeral.  I have sat in my office many a time thinking about dad, and why I wasn’t upset with his passing.  Part of me understood why, now even more understands. 

Thank you for taking the time to allow me to get this off my chest, has it done me any good, I hope so.  As always your thoughts, comments or questions are always appreciated.  Please take care, Bill

 
32 Comments

Posted by on December 29, 2013 in Grandpa Stories, Observations, Ramblings

 

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32 responses to “About My Dad

  1. benzeknees

    December 29, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Unfortunately, I know this story all too well. My parents were quite brutal with punishments & made sure we knew we children were an accessory (children should be seen not heard) & would not be an interference with their lives. My father was the only male in the family & what he said ruled the entire house at all times. I won’t repeat the names he called me as soon as my breasts started to come in & he decided I was promiscuous at a very early age. As soon as I was old enough I moved away from home.

     
    • FlaHam

      December 30, 2013 at 8:19 am

      Benze, My heart goes out to you. In lookin within and talking to a couple of my siblings, each of us left the house the moment we could. And none have ever returned. My brothers and sister all stayed within miles of the parents house. I on the other hand stayed as far away as I could. Stories like this stir one up, and in my case it forced me to talk to my brother and sister about a topic we never spoke as adults. Take care, Bill

       
      • benzeknees

        December 30, 2013 at 3:30 pm

        As I was reading some of your comments on this, I realized my sister & I have such different memories of our home life as we were growing up. I am the older sister & I know I tried to shield her whenever I could, she was the more rebellious sibling & so got in trouble more which terrified me even more because I couldn’t stand hearing her getting a beating. It crushed my soul to hear her crying, it hurt me when she got hurt as much as it hurt her.

         
        • FlaHam

          December 30, 2013 at 3:46 pm

          Benze, I was also the oldest, and appears always the first target. In many instants it seems the initial rage landed on my shoulders because I was oldest and should have prevented the younger sibling from screwing up, and the secondary beatings spilled over to the “screw up.” I do remember when the beating stopped. It was the day while laying of the floor being kicked, that I kicked dad’s legs out from under him. I am not taking credit for this being the reason, but it did seem that the beatings pretty much stopped for all of us after this incident. I was 12 or 13 at the time. I also immediately got a job that kept me away from the house after school. And most of the weekends, and when I wasn’t working I was out. My sister was the one that heard most of the events hiding in her bedroom hoping and praying she wasn’t next. She took a lot more emotional abuse than the boys I am sure. I completely understand your statement about being crushed when your sister caught it, I do remember that feeling when dad, got on my brothers. Benze, thank you so much for your words, I am so so sorry you had to endure it as a child, no child should. Please take care, Bill

           
  2. jmgoyder

    December 30, 2013 at 12:21 am

    Oh he sounds so horrible. And you are so wonderful! I am glad you got this off your chest.

     
    • FlaHam

      December 30, 2013 at 8:21 am

      Julie, Thank you for you sweet kind words. I didn’t realize I needed to get it off my chest until I started writing it. Then it kind of flooded out. I really had to rein myself in and not go into details, especially after talking with the siblings. Take care, Bill

       
  3. DaydreamsInWonderland

    December 30, 2013 at 4:56 am

    I’m sorry to hear you went through this. I know a lot of parents were like that back then. I know that all too well from some of my own family members.

    Glad the writing served as some release for you.

     
    • FlaHam

      December 30, 2013 at 9:32 am

      Card, Being totally honest when I was going thru it I thought it was “normal.” It wasn’t until years later, and many conversations, did I come to realize my normal wasn’t everyone’s normal. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, that is greatly appreciated. Take care, Bill

       
  4. Wanda

    December 30, 2013 at 5:15 am

    It wasn’t all “Ozzie and Harriet” or “Father Knows Best,” was it? You probably will never know, and it certainly isn’t an excuse for abuse, but I wonder why he was the way he was.

    The good news is that you are proof that those kind of tendencies don’t HAVE to be passed on to the next generation.

     
    • FlaHam

      December 30, 2013 at 9:36 am

      Wanda, No my upbringing apparently wasn’t the thing TV shows were made of. Wanda, you are 100 pct correct, I will never know and I am glad of that. Soft smile, the one thing dad taught me was, I knew I would never treat any child of mine in a similar fashion. Hopefully Allison would agree with that. Take care, Bill

       
  5. Chatter Master

    December 30, 2013 at 5:45 am

    Bill, you would never know from your countenance that this is part of your up bringing. Despite, or maybe partially because of, his behaviors you determined what kind of man you would be. And it sounds like love and appreciation and care are very much a part of who you are. I admire the way you tell this tale of your life. Again, it speaks to what kind of man you are.

     
    • FlaHam

      December 30, 2013 at 9:45 am

      Colleen, Thank you for your kind words. As I was telling another, I thought I li ved in a “normal” environment as a kid. I didn’t know any different about what when on behind closed doors. But I can say, yes it made me the man I have become. I knew growing up knowing I would never be like that and that I would never beat my child. Yes my daughter was spanked, and harshly sometimes, but never beaten and never in total rage. And for every spanking ten. twenty, thirty times the amount of spanking was showered on her in love and affection. Colleen, it’s funny in a sad way, but I never expected to tell this story. But once the words started sliding off my finger tips it was even harder to hold it back. Please take care, Bill

       
      • Chatter Master

        December 30, 2013 at 9:12 pm

        I’m glad you got the words out Bill. Sometimes it’s the only release we need, to let the words out of our heads. You obviously found a much better way to live. And you have a wonderful relationship with your wife and daughter and grand daughter to show for it. You’ll never have to worry about these kind of words having to be released by your daughter. 🙂 You broke a cycle 🙂

         
        • FlaHam

          December 30, 2013 at 10:30 pm

          Colleen, soft smile I am not sure I am happy or not. Before yesterday it was just a nagging thought in the back of my head. Something I thought I knew but really didn’t know. But as the words flowed out, I needed confirmation, and I called my sibling, and got what I really didn’t want. Now I have opened another chapter, which I will look at differently than I had before. My dear friend, I knew a long long long time ago that I would never grow up like my dad. I have spent a lifetime not being him, and I have been very successful. But hearing you and others say it makes me feel very good about myself. I have 3 brothers we all broke the cycle. My sister also broke the cycle, we all turned out pretty good. Please take care and Happy 2014… Bill

           
          • Chatter Master

            December 31, 2013 at 5:39 am

            Very successful indeed Bill.

            Happy 2014!

            Thank you for a 2013 full of support, love and cheer. It was a good year indeed, that we met. 🙂

             
  6. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

    December 30, 2013 at 10:33 am

    I always find it amazing when we sit down with someone and hear their story, everyone has a story. I wouldn’t have placed this one with your heart and jovial self. Today I’m sending extra special cyber hugs and gratitude to you. Glad the world has you, my friend Bill. xoxo

     
    • FlaHam

      December 30, 2013 at 10:57 am

      Paulette, I so enjoy your cyber hugs, they do a soul good. I have since spoke to another sibling, and he has no recollections at all, as we talked he spoke that maybe his size had something to do with it, or the way he was consumed with experimenting with illegal substances, may be clouding his memory. I told him to keep his memories, just as they are. No sense in trying to find new memories. I am glad the world has me to, and I plan on being here as long as I am allowed. Take care, Bill — xoxox —

       
  7. DeeDee Granata

    December 30, 2013 at 10:53 am

    I like your santa hat!

     
    • FlaHam

      December 30, 2013 at 10:58 am

      Dee Dee, I am so glad you saw it, I am getting ready to put it back into it’s plastic bag until next year. Take care, Bill

       
  8. Miss Lou

    December 30, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Hi Bill, I came back to respond to the comment I left on your earlier ‘How I feel today Post’ – one where you share your experience with COPD and I couldn’t find it 😦 ‘Page Not Found’,)

    I really enjoyed this post and the other, and most of your posts because they contain the element of truth.

    It’s a wonderful example the way we share your journey, as you share it it openly. I cannot speak for anyone else, though for me – it provides comfort and encouragement.

    Thank you 🙂

    As a child, I also thought families were supposed to be like mine. Scotch under my mothers car seat, physically abusive pedophile boyfriends. Screaming matches that all the neighbours seemed to ignore. Why didn’t anyone ever call the police?

    I recall getting to year 5 and sleeping over a friends house, No yelling (or drinking parents) & uninterrupted sleep. I tried to stay away from home alot after that.

    What I experienced wasn’t normal. #EyesOpened

    Thanks for sharing Bill.

    ML
    xx

     
    • FlaHam

      December 30, 2013 at 3:34 pm

      Miss Lou Lou, Thank you for coming back, and thank you for commenting. I can say in all honesty if you had commented to an earlier Post I would have remember it and surely would have responded. Your name is so unique, it stands out. I am sorry I missed that prior post. Miss Lou Lou, I am a down to earth kind of guy. When I started this blog I figured I would be lucky to get 20 following. I just wanted to reach out and touch those who had COPD, I wanted them to know they were not alone, and I was going to be honest in my approach. This has worked very well for me, I have touched a bunch of people, and I suspect I have helped a few too along the way. That alone makes it all worth while. Moving on to this post, it was the single hardest post I have written to date. I think I came to a mental cross roads yesterday, and once the words started, they flowed. I stopped the process twice to call one of my brothers and my sister to get their take, and to make sure I just wasn’t having a mental fart and making it up. These conversations which I thought would take a few minutes at most were over an hour, they shared they memories, and theirs were worst than mine. To steal your line, Eyes Opened!! WOW. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post, and for commenting. These comments on this post are important to me. If you have further questions or concerns or comments I will answer. Please take care, Bill

       
  9. huntmode

    December 30, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Dear Bill, it takes courage to move towards the thoughts that cause us discomfort, sometimes terror, most often shame or rage. Some people, once started, seem to bathe themselves in the memories and never come back to the present. Some never look head on, just out of the corner of their eye, the shadow in the corner. You did. You went further and shared a bit of it with us. I thank you for that. I salute you for coming to grips with your memories and emotions. It is hard work when truly embraced. Reaching out to your siblings is a whole ‘nother kind of courage and level of discomfort.

    I know this because I had to do it as well. I don’t write about it because I was able to resolve it. It doesn’t mean I forgot it. I put the demons at rest. A big difference and perhaps that is what you have done here. Further, your own life shows you refused to be what your father was.

    Thank you, Bill, for trusting us enough to let us into your heart.

    Best ~ HuntMode

     
    • FlaHam

      December 30, 2013 at 10:43 pm

      Hunt, This all started years ago, when I was having a supper table conversation with my Mom. It was one of those quiet conversations that sometimes aren’t supposed to happen, but it did. Mom’s health took a major turn before we ever had a chance to continue that conversation, and I think in all honesty I didn’t want to confirm it. But a seed planted does grow. And on the 29th it exploded from my fingers. I can’t put it back in the box, so I won’t. But I do know I grew up to be an entirely different man than my dad. And I am quite proud of my life and what I accomplished. I know I was a good dad, and still am. Take care, Bill

       
      • huntmode

        December 31, 2013 at 12:46 am

        Yes, those seeds tend to grow. Better in the light than in the dark. From your writing, you are a most loving and proud Dad and Grandfather. Amen.

         
  10. gpcox

    December 31, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I thank God everyday that I did NOT have a father like that, but I hope your experiences will not put a damper on a bright outlook for 2014 – HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

     
    • FlaHam

      December 31, 2013 at 12:23 pm

      Gail, Thank you so much for your well wishes for 2014, I do hope your 2014 is a great one. I too am thankful you didn’t have a father like that, and I am grateful I didn’t turn out like that. Please take care, Bill

       
  11. Alice Keys

    December 31, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Bill,

    I’m sorry for your suffering. I’m also sorry for your father’s suffering.

    I don’t mean to condone child abuse in any way. I only wonder if there could have been circumstances that make what happened easier to understand. Understanding can make things easier.

    I can’t help but wonder what more there might have been to your dad than anger and abuse.

    In the sixties, beating kids with heavy wooden paddles was still normal and expected in the mid-west elementary school I attended. I both saw and personally experienced their use. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” was expected at home. Dad’s were supposed to dole out the “disciline” to kids. A dad who didn’t hit his kids was thought to be shirking his job. I still think it wrong to hit children. But, at the time, hitting kids wasn’t considered abuse. It was thought to be a painful and unfortunate necessity to keep your kids in the”right” road.

    The economy really sucked in the fifties and sixties. I’m number three of seven and we were really poor. The hungry and cold kind of poor. Six kids was a lot for one man to support, especially one who couldn’t keep a job. Remember, the economy sucked. There weren’t much in the way of jobs for anyone. Being unable to feed his babies would have been overwhelming for any man. At the time, providing “discipline” and having a job to provide for the family was all we let men be. Financial stress is still the number one factor in breaking up families.

    He was also a navy veteran. What did he suffer and witness during his time in the service? War scars last a lifetime. They effect behavior and the ability to relate to others.

    And you know what? I’m glad he didn’t let you slide down the drain that day.

    All the best. Thanks for sharing this story. Happy New Year. Be well.
    Alice

     
    • FlaHam

      December 31, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      Alice, Soft smile, I don’t for a moment think you condone the behavior. I was part of the 50’s and 60’s, I had my butt spanked with that wooden paddle at school, and again when I got home, I even expected to be spanked and spanked hard for the trouble I got into. But it stops there. I hope you don’t mind Alice, this isn’t the place for me to get up on a soap box. Nor is it really a place to air the dirty laundry . But if you would like to continue this discussion I would be happy to you via email. Take care, Happy New Year — Bill

       
      • Alice Keys

        January 1, 2014 at 7:12 am

        Bill
        I emailed you back this morning. Health and Happiness to you. Stay as sweet as you are.
        Alice

         

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