All my life it seems I have ‘gravitated’ towards certain men in my life – men of “character.” Harry is the latest; Harry is a man of “character.”
My Dad was a man of “character” also, I suppose. But he had little-to-no time for any of us – our family – as we were growing up. He would rather drink. This is by no means meant to say that we never did anything as a family, but more often than not, dear ole Dad just wasn’t there… So, I looked elsewhere for male mentors.
Among the first I found were my uncles. Uncle Waldo, Uncle Bib, Uncle Chuck, Uncle Bob and Uncle George were the prominent ones. Not all at once mind you, but at different periods of my life as I matured into a man. Then there was Carl Gamble, and certain of you in the Air Force. While you were my Commanders, and supervisors, and on occasion, peers, maybe without knowing it, you were also my “mentors.” And that meant a great deal to me.
Each of you brought certain values to me; values that eventually shaped me. Waldo showed me a sense of stability; Bib gave me a work ethic; Chuck inspired me with his never-ending inquisitiveness and Bob – Bob is “to blame” for my warped sense of humor!
Carl showed me what it means to be gracious and George showed me the meaning of kindness and generosity. Each of you from the Air Force also contributed ‘parts’ that eventually made me whole as a commander at the pinnacle of my career. As “hard” as I can be on myself, I think I was not a “half-bad” commander, all things considered…
Before I got sober, as each of you would leave – as each of you died – I would get so damned drunk, and so angry! I would ask God why He took Uncle Chuck, or Uncle Bob or whoever, and not dear ole Dad! Gawd-damnit! Why did he have to take the men in my Life that I loved? I was so “into myself” during that period of drinking… so self-absorbed.
Last Thursday evening Harry had a seizure. I didn’t learn of it until Saturday. In a cat scan they discovered a brain tumor… and yes, I’m scared.
Harry is home now; and is in good spirits. Today I hope to spend some time with him – just to be with him. Harry is a man of character; and I have yet, so much to learn from him… as I do yet, from all of you – the Men in My Life…