My Ol’ Man

Emails and comments. I get lots of them both from folks who read this blog or see the photos on my website, www.JourneyAmerica.org.

Most of them are pretty complimentary – they do this scruffy ol’ vet’s heart some good. You know, ego strokes and all that. My girlfriend says I’m an egomaniac. Well, I don’t know.

But I also get some comments that take me to task for some things I write about. I’m pretty well anti-politician, so that generates some emails from the “Pro-bama” crowd. I think that calling an illegal immigrant and “undocumented alien” is like calling a crack dealer an unlicensed pharmacist – yah, that gets some feed back too.

And most of the negative comments I ignore. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion…even if it’s different than mine.

But recently I got a comment on one of my blogs that I couldn’t ignore. In one of my recent blogs, I referred to my father as my “ol’ man”. I really got taken to the woodshed for that one. Who was the person that tried to set me straight?

My mother.

When I refer to my father as “my ol’ man”, it’s not meant out of disrespect. It’s my military training I guess. You see, in the military, the head dude in charge – regardless of his age – is always referred to as the “ol’ man”. It’s a term that signifies and acknowledges his wisdom, skills and experience. While I can’t ever remember anyone calling the Captain of any ship I was on, “ol’ man” to his face, everyone knew that no disrespect was intended.

My father was a helluva guy. Everyone in town knew Pop and loved him. When he died the church was overflowing with people that came to his memorial service.

He was a hard worker. Most of my memories of him center around him working hard 7 days a week. And you know what? I never heard him complain…not once. He came from a generation that took work, home, church and community seriously and he gave freely to all of them.

Some of my other memories of him have to do with sports. Along with mom, pop was my biggest cheerleader. From Little League all the way up into high school baseball, I could always pick his voice out from the crowd. My proudest moment I think was when I was playing third base in a game at Milboro. The batter hit a line drive straight at my head. Instead of ducking, I caught it and made an unassisted triple play. The crowd went wild. But the only voice I could hear in that noise was his: “Way to go Buck!. Way to go!!”

When pop wasn’t working at The Homestead you could find him tinkering in his garden. That little garden was more than just a hobby. It was his pride and joy and iin some ways I think it was his place to meditate and pray. I think he found stability there in the garden. Often, but not often enough, I’d set out on the grass beside the garden and talk with him.

Pop was from a different generation. He was a WWII Navy veteran and saw some heavy fighting on board the USS Intrepid in the Pacific. He was onboard the “Mighty I” on Columbus Day in 1944 when they got hit with a record 14 Kamikaze planes.

But he never talked much a bout his war experiences much. He just went about quietly doing what he did best – making friends, enjoying his family and his church. Trying to leave this world a little better than he found it. And you know what? I think he succeeded.

So when I refer to him as my “ol’ man”, please remember that it’s spoken in tones of love and fond memories.

Often I find myself thinking that I’d give my right arm to be able to set out beside the garden with him just one more time and get some guidance and advice. Or to show him some of my shots that have become pretty well known and hear – just one more time – “Way to go Buck! Way to go!!”

So I’m just gonna set here at my favorite table at Firestorm Cafe and finish off this last cup of coffee for the day and drink it in memory of my ol’ man.

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