My schedule to publish the full account of the "Saga of the Deep Sea" was to have taken place today - Fathers Day - but unforeseen events sabotaged my time line. Last week, I was severely stricken by an event that resulted in me riding an ambulance up the hill to Jefferson Hospital. In the final analysis, it became a TIA, similar to a stroke.
In the past, I have been reticent about making a big deal about Mothers Day and Fathers Day because I am sensitive to the fact that there are many folk who have been deprived for one reason or another of that "luxury" in life. So, forgive my indulgence. I am motivated to acknowledge my late Dad.
|Bunkering in Eureka, California|
In chatting with my only sibling, my sister, we both agree that Dad was not a mean tyrant. For many years, he was away from home, working as an engineer on tugboats in the Puget Sound and Alaska venues. But he had boundaries, and we knew exactly where they were. I think it was because of his upbringing, that he knew that a firm voice, not yelling, no dramatics, was most effective in getting "our attention."
I remember one breakfast when we lived in Prince Rupert (1957-1959) that he casually mentioned to Mother, he suspected someone was driving our car while he was on his round trip to Ward Cove. He was writing the mileage down when he parked the car. And checked it when he returned two days later. My heart stopped. I began choking on my breakfast. But that was all he ever said about the car being driven. He never confronted me! But message received! And I told my buddies, "No more joy rides in my Dads car while he is in Alaska!"
It is a complicated story, but the bottom line is that I ended up working on a summer permit on Alaska Freight Lines tug M/V Martin. Turned out that my Dad was Chief, and I was Wiper #2. He took me aside and told me that I worked for the Second Assistant, to follow his instructions, to avoid any hint of "favoritism" in the engine department because he was Chief. No problem.
The most frightening person on board, a rough-hewn Norwegian Skipper. The man had a way with words!
My Dad was sipping a cup of coffee. He motioned me to join him, and asked me why I was not in the engine room helping my engineer service the engines. I told him I had requested my pay from the Skipper and was flying back to Seattle.
Long story short.
I remember his words to this day. My Dad told me about character. He explained that he had worked with rough, tough and crude characters most of his life. In logging camps. In railroad camps. On fishing boats. On tugboats. But they had not diminished who he was, nor his beliefs. That character was the ability to do the right thing despite the arguments around you, when nobody is there to check on you. To bond to your beliefs and values.
His point well made, now I had a really serious problem. Facing the skipper to tell him I changed my mind again and was staying aboard! The man had mastered the skill of coining new virulent curses. He tossed me a new one - involving m**** and f*** and w*** and so on, and told me to get back to work!
Months later, when it came time for me to leave the Martin to return to Washington State University, I actually cried. I yearned to stay on board. And I had learned to see the good side of fellows who had a far different outlook on life than I. And I enjoyed learning from them. I was beginning to learn how to absorb the positive, and eliminate the negative.
And the Captain wished me well with my education ...
That lesson from my Dad molded my deportment for the rest of my life.
Thank You, Dad.