Who We Really Are….
May 2, 2012 10 Comments
This is essentially a reblog from Tracie Louise Photography but, I wanted to add more than is convenient in the comments for a reblog. Read her work, it made my monitor blurry, not many do that. That’s why my comment was so terse, Tracie, it was all I could manage.
A fellow blogger and just lovely lady, George, shared some incredible photographs yesterday on her blog, I urge you to check them out here. And as a result of that post, we got into a conversation, of which I would like to share a small portion of that conversation now.
I had told George that I have barely looked at a photograph of my mother since she crossed over, 9 years ago this past Easter. She encouraged me to get out some pictures and look at them, but this was my response:
… she was my best friend. If I am at all wise, or creative, or kind, or spiritual, it’s because of her. And I know exactly what she would say to this comment… if I want to see her, I only need look into my own eyes, and my own heart. And she would be right. She left her body 9 years ago, and moved onto bigger and better things. She was never that body, it just housed her for a time (way too short a time). But it was never who she really was, and looking at a picture of it, will not bring us any closer. I hope you understand what I am saying… I think I might actually be channelling it directly from her, as it seems far to wise to have come from me
I lost my grandfather when I was 20 years old. Pop and I had one of those special bonds… you know the ones. They don’t require words. There is just this “knowing” between you. Mum taught me a great deal about life and death when my Pop passed. She taught me that if I ever wanted to spend time with my grandfather, to look no further than my own heart. She taught me that there was no need to visit a cemetery because I wouldn’t find Pop there. She said that Pop would never be truly gone as long as we were around to remember him… to honour him… to live our lives in a manner that would make him proud.
This is exactly how I feel about my Dad, who passed in 1978. I still, in quieter moments feel him around me. One of the more unusual things in my family is that almost all of the men are built alike, right down to suit size, and going completely grey in our twenties. In fact, Dad was buried in his son-in-law’s suit because I needed the one I had for the funeral, all three of us, and most of my uncles to could have traded clothes. Dad pretty much never lectured, he led, he taught, and he disciplined when necessary rarely was more “I’m disappointed in you.” necessary. In truth my sister (who is 20 years older than me) said, after he was gone that he had always scared her. I understood what she meant immediately. He never did me but, he sure motivated me. I’ve said before that our family motto is “If it’s not absolutely right, it’s completely wrong” that came from Dad.
He had a command presence in any company. Once after he retired he took a wrong turn with his motorhome in southern Georgia, near as I can tell, he ended up at the main gate of Fort Benning. He found it funny that the gate guard looked at him took a step back and snapped off a parade ground salute, I figured it was normal. He looked and acted like he was at least a colonel, in fact he acted more like a colonel than most of the colonels I’ve met.
In his professional career he was the best. Lineman, Project Superintendent, General Manager, and the job nearly killed him because he was also a micromanager. He knew (the bad part is that he was right) that he could do everyone’s job better than they could. He didn’t tolerate sloppiness or second-rate work. He built the house he lived in for the last 30 years of his life. I mean built with his own two hands. He told me once not long before he passed that it had always bothered him that the house was out of square. A friend of mine from college was selling one of the new laser total stations and I talked him into a demonstration one weekend. Dad was right, the house was out of square, 1/32d of an inch in 135 feet. Dad insisted he could see it.
In his career the people that he got along with best were the operations people, he was one of them, and in the time I was around they were almost all World War II combat veterans. They had the same belief system right or wrong, yes or no. That’s where I first learned “Yes, sir, no, sir, three bags full, sir”.
He trained me as a lineman, with help from the crews, There wasn’t a piece of utility equipment I couldn’t operate (pretty well, too) by the time I was 14, He let me wire an outbuilding on my own when I was 13, he inspected it and took off some hide verbally on a minor violation of Article 250.
To this day he is there looking over my shoulder, every day. Each and everyday my first thought on a problem is what would Dad do? It’s served me very well, not so much financially, but every decision I’ve made, I could defend to the toughest judge I’ll ever face on Earth, Dad.
But you know the other thing about that. When I got my first few jobs as an electrical contractor, I asked him to back check me both on the plans and in the field. He absolutely refused. It hurt my feeling a lot but now I understand. He had taught me and taught me well: now it was up to me to perform. When I did with few problems, it was a huge confidence booster.
We never talked much, we Norse are world renowned for being taciturn but, you can tell just how men feel about each other when they shake hands, words are superfluous. So I know Dad always knew how much I loved him even as I knew how much he loved me. And like Tracie said, If I want to see him, all I have to do is look in a mirror.
I need to close this and will by saying that I hope he is half as proud of me as I am of being his son. And with the quote from Tracie that set me off.
She said that Pop would never be truly gone as long as we were around to remember him… to honour him… to live our lives in a manner that would make him proud.
If you’ve read the comment stream you know that I promised to follow Tracie’s link over to George’s post. It’s extraordinarily good. Go there now, just do it.
The other thing that I realized is that I give all too often a two dimensional portrait of Dad. There was another side (several in fact). The other family tradition is music. Grampa did two things, ran the town light plant and directed the town band, both were passed down. Of the 7 brothers, 3 worked for utility companies, the other 4 directed high school bands (good ones too, even including one that toured Scandinavia). Which is how we got here in the first place, my great-great Grampa first came to America on a band tour of Iowa and Minnesota, guess he liked what he saw. So I thought I would add this too.