By SJ Otto
May dad just passed away and that means it's time to look back on our relation ship, which at times was strained and at times was very happy. My dad was born in 1926, an early part of the 20th Century, in
was about 27 years old when I was born. He went on to have five other sons. We
all lived in St.
Louis MO. St. Louis until I was
13. Then we moved to where
I have lived most of my life. Wichita KS
My dad grew up in the generation that witnessed World War II. The war ended a few months before their plans to ship him off to the Pacific theater. One of the things we have in common is that we both missed fighting in combat. The draft for the Vietnam War ended less than a year before my 18th birthday. One difference is that dad fully intended to fight the Japanese when called on. I on the other hand wasn't sure what I would do about the Vietnam War. I had mixed feelings and if I really wanted to get out it, I believe I could have. My dad was glad he didn't see any action. As with me he had no love for the idea of shooting at other people while they try and shoot back.
My dad and I represent a clean break from one generation to the other. My dad liked music by Tommy Dorsey, Henry Mancini and he liked Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. He liked the big band sound. He grew up in a time when that kind of music was very popular. I grow up as a rock and roll child. That is the music I grew up with and my culture was very different from my dad’s. His culture had actors such as Sammy Davis Jr., Henry Fonda and Kirk Douglas. Most of those actors and musicians are dead now, as my father is. My dad and his generation drank alcohol and avoided any other kind of recreational drug use. My generation adopted pot and LSD. So his culture differed greatly from that of mine which was mostly set by the 1970s.
I have spent a lot of years in the peace movement trying to stop most of the
My dad worked with military secrets. He helped design the B-1
My dad was a Republican in his younger years. He became a follower of that party back when most of my other relatives, including my mother, were Democrats. That doesn’t mean they were all that left-wing. The Democratic Party at the time was more of a middle of the political spectrum party. At times the Democrats were quite conservative. As a child, both my parents admired John F. Kennedy and as with most people of that time period, he was anti-communist and anti-socialist.
I was always to the left. As a high school student I was interested in both socialism and anarchy. Much of socialist inspiration came from Salvador Allende. In my 20s I was a liberal. I slowly drifted in to Marxism as I got older. My dad will never understand my fondness for the Marxist left. But he is way more liberal than he used to be. I can remember having lots of arguments with dear old dad over many different things, from life style choices, (such as my first wife and how we lived together before marriage) politics and such things as using his property when I still lived at home. I used his 22 riffle once without permission—boy was he MAD!
I was a practicing Catholic until my 30s. That was one thing dad and I had in common. But I broke with that religion over political reasons and Christianity as well. I adopted agnosticism and I now consider myself an Epicurean. My dad stayed a life-long Catholic. His funeral will take place in a Catholic Church. Ironically none of my brothers are practicing Catholics. Some of us are Catholic but don’t practice the religion and others simply don’t value religion at all, (agnosticism or atheism). He may be the last of us to be buried in a coffin and the last to have a funeral in a Catholic Church. At times I feel sorry for both my mom and my dad that their religion of choice, which we all grew up in, is dying out in this family.
A point to much of this is that we represented two separate generations. Still, there were times when we had plenty of things in common.
As the years passed by my dad and I mellowed out and in the last 30 years we hardly ever argued things, even politics. We had found more in common with each other and my dad moved farther to the left. He is not a socialist or Marxist, but he is liberal and supports a lot of liberal positions. By the time he died we had way more things in common.
Not long ago my dad told me that I was more of a pro-family person—that is someone who takes an active roll in supporting various family members, than his other sons. I took that as a compliment. I do think that family is important. I do try to be supportive of other family members. I feel family is maybe the most important aspects of our lives. After all we can’t count on the government or society in general to support us. So maybe family is all we have that we can count on when we need help. As the mother of that show “The Middle” says—“you do for family.”
Politicians such as Donald Trump have helped bring my family together. My dad hated Trump, as does my wife and brothers. My dad and I have that in common.
My dad was 91 years old, so he got a lot out of life. He had a supportive wife, Joan, who is now deceased, had has six sons, of which Paul is now deceased and most of us have been fairly successful in life.
He had a good life. We can all be grateful for that. As with my favorite dead person quote:
"Living is transformed into dying, lifeless matter is transformed into living beings. I propose that when people over the age of 50 die, a party should be held to celebrate, for it is in inevitable that men should die- this is natural law."
And here is a good song about dying: