My family is made up of my father, Robert, my mother, Agnes and my brothers James (Jim) and Robert (Bobby) and my sister Linda.
I am the youngest of the children and have always been treated accordingly. I was born into a family that was at best on the outside appeared moderately “traditional” in the way of the early 1960’s.
My Dad worked and my Mom raised the kids.
On the inside of the walls of our Walnut street home our family was “non-traditional” in the sense that in a very real way, not one of us as children ever really knew our father.
Not to say that we did not know who he was, or that we did not know what he looked like. We knew him in those ways, however, I believe I can speak for my brothers and sister…we have never known our father.
He was absent. Not necessarily always by his own choice, but by a career that he choose.
Maybe I should say it chose him. Either way, he wasn’t there.
We did not know him in the way that one can know another person. We did not know what he was like as a child or even what were his true dreams and desires were for his life.
For you see, our father was a truck driver. A true truck driver is a very unique breed. There are very few true truck drivers left anymore. They may be legally married to another person, however, ultimately, they are physically, emotionally and even spiritually married to the road. My father was someone who showed up on weekends. He never made it to the ball games or the plays. I have absolutely no recollection of him being at one of the activities I was a part of.
He would come in late on Friday and leave on Sunday afternoon. The short periods he would come home and then head out when the next load was ready to be delivered, influenced what we did learn about him. We did not know him. In turn, all too often these times at home were punctuated by the temper and frustration of a man that did not know his own family. However, make no mistake in understanding my upbringing. My father loved us…all of us. His way of showing it was working hard and answering the bell every time work called. I know of no other trait that he could have instilled in us that would have made us better adults than him passing on his work ethic to his children.
Our lives were no more, or no less scarred by our up bringing than any other family on our block. In spite of having a father that was on the road and never really home, we experienced the joys of life.
The thrill of growing up in innocence and the memories of Christmas mornings seen through my eyes as a child were magical.
We weren’t poor. I have seen poor in my life and that would not have best described us.
On the other hand, we were not rich either. No silver spoons to eat with, just the lower level of Middle America. We never owned the house that we lived in, yet my dad always had a good car in the driveway.
We did not get the latest and greatest new toy that some children got on our block, at least not when they were most popular. The clothes that we wore were clean and appropriate. My sister had it somewhat easier when it came to clothes. I would have to endure the chore of wearing hand me downs from my brother Bobby. I am sure he had to wear clothes from our oldest brother Jim.
We were not deprived from having “things” in our life. We were just were on the “wait until school starts” plan for new clothes and the Christmas and Birthday wish list for toys.
If I strain my memory, I can still remember the day when the package came in the mail from J. C. Penney that would be my new clothes for the school year. I can still smell the new clothes I received for the first day of school and I remember that life was no better, than when I got a “transistor radio” for my birthday when I was seven.
Life was good…as fine as childhood memories go.
But then again, maybe it’s just me…