Sunday, June 19, 2011

HAPPY FATHERS' DAY

My dad, Kenneth Freeman, was from Tahoka, Texas and couldn't wait to get out.  He graduated from high school at 16, went to Texas Tech for a semester (while painting cars for money) to major in law.  He still wanted to get further than Lubbock (30 miles from Tahoka) so he joined the Army.  He was blind in one eye and had to memorize the eye chart to pass the physical, but he got in.

I'm gonna brag on him a lot, so bear with me.  He did so well on all his aptitude tests that they sent him to officer candidate school.  He broke his arm the last week and couldn't finish.  He decided not to go back, but continued to progress up the Army food chain.  He married my Mom in Sept '52 and went off to France soon after (post war stuff don't you know). She was 4 years older and had two kids. They had me in July '53.  We all went over to France in December '53 where he was busy helping to fight the early cold war.

We came back to the States in '55 and settled in Norfolk VA where he kept on moving along.  I got sick and needed a dryer climate, so he put in for El Paso and White Sands.  He was in at the beginning of missile program and soon found a way to be an officer without Officer Candidate School and became a CWO2 (skipped over CWO don't you know).  Missiles took us to Michigan and then there was a slide.  The top secret issues my dad had to deal with did not mesh well with his share all, gregarious soul and he started binge drinking.  He was the happiest drunk I've ever met, and he always made it to work (functional alcholism??).

The Army saw fit to let him finish his 21 years on Okinawa where he was a middle officer overseeing Post Engineers.  He brought the first country fair to Okinawa which was a huge success, including appearances by John Wayne and Fess Parker.  He secured us the best house on the island.  My dad was a bit of hustler.

He loved El Paso and as soon as he retired he wanted to come back to El Paso.  He made a deal with my mom, one year to find a good job or we were moving to Chattanooga (her home).  Two days before the year, he found a job as an insurance adjuster, so we stayed.

What did I love best about my Dad: working with him upholstering found furniture; working with him on cars (yes I can change my own oil, windshield wipers and tires, Thanks, Dad); him helping me with my math homework (a gene not transferred from him to me); he taught me how to find stuff, call and ask about parts, etc.  I loved sitting with him on the porch when he would play his guitar and we would sing folk songs and country tunes.  I love that I look exactly like my Dad, no Maury Povich needed.  I loved that he taught me how to carry out practical jokes without malice. He was a purposeful disciplinarian, always with an explanation, no screaming or yelling or hitting.

My Dad died at 42 in Nov '72.  I was 19 and there is not a day goes by that I don't miss him.  I would love to have him around now so he could see my success.

So Dad, I love you and miss you.  God please take good care of him until we can sit on the porch of heaven together.  Thank you.

1 comment:

MaCarroll Beads said...

What a wonderful tribute! It brought a tear to my eyes...... My Dad died when I was 19 also.... He was 48. So I guess, Elizabeth, we have something else in common besides jewelry and being special education teachers... :O) MaryAnn