Monday, February 16, 2009

Heads or Tails - "Legends" Volume I - 2/16/09

The Heads or Tails prompt “Legend” made me ruminate about my dad. My dad was George Washington Wainright Jr. March 25th will be the twentieth anniversary of his death from cancer. As I hurtle closer to his age when he died, I find myself reflecting on his life. Unfortunately, I never got to really know him as an adult. By the time I was mature enough to conduct a lucid conversation with him, I was in the military and primarily living overseas. He never really got to know his grandchildren, but their few memories of him are fond. Unfortunately, there are scant few photos of them with him.

Nearly everyone that knew him is gone now as well. I have come to realize that his legend will die with me unless I document some of it here. He had a life before I knew him which included two other children and he has two other sets of grandchildren that he never met. But that is another tragic story. I will randomly write some of my favorite anecdotes and remembrances of him here, hoping to keep his memory alive for future Wainrights. I am going to submit this as several posts. With all the memories swirling through my head, I know it will be a long-winded rambling. Many people don’t tend to read extra long posts. I know if I come across one with more than a few paragraphs, I move on without reading, unless it captivates me. My attention span is very short. The photos I am including require little explanation. A few comments: It is hard to find any photos of my dad as a young man without him having "a snoot full" as my mom would say. You can see that he always had time for me. I hope I was half the father as he was in that respect. I never heard my dad swear, which is amazing considering the environment where he labored, a hard rock mine. He may have sworn at work, but never at home. I on the other hand cuss like a drunken pirate. I try to watch it around my grandkids, but occasionally something will slip. My grandson, Carson, will scold me,"Grandpa, we don't say that." I tried to tell him I had Tourette's, but I don't think he bought it.

I inherited dad’s intelligence, potential for addiction, love of baseball, fishing, and Hank Williams. He also bequeathed to me his facade covering underlying sadness and hopelessness. He was a highly functioning alcoholic long before rehab was fashionable and available. A very gentle soul, he was honest and kind-hearted. I don’t think he had an enemy in the world. Dad had a calm about him very much like Gandhi. Though I think, unlike the Mahatma, his was somewhat alcohol induced. That being said, dad did not drink for 14 years as I was growing up. To my recollection, his drinking had no negative effect on my life. He was never abusive or offensive, just sad. Though we were poor, I never wanted for anything. But I think it is impossible to tell who he was without discussing his alcoholism. The following are memories of him and thoughts about how he has affected the lives of his lineage.

I see some of his traits in my own children. Much like dad, my son Josh enjoys the way the world looks through beer goggles. As Josh and I tend to be a bit boisterous, dad was a very quiet and soft-spoken man. In that respect, my son Rick is the most like him. He was independent and self-reliant, as is my daughter Carly.

He passed on his ability to type like a sonofabitch with two fingers to my son, Josh. I can type pretty fast but use the home keys and all my fingers.

Dad was a good guitar player and singer. He made up some great songs but never wrote them down. So they died with him. I received his love of music but was not blessed with his ability to make it. Luckily, that talent was passed through me. All of my kids are musical. I have songs in my head but they quickly turn into poems.

Dad had terrible sinus problems. I can remember him being very sick with them and having to go to an ear, nose, and throat specialist in Spokane for very painful procedures. This was well before Claritin. He passed that condition down to us. We all suffer from allergies.

None of us received his resourcefulness. There was nothing he couldn’t fix. I doubt he ever paid an artisan to repair anything. In the early 1960s, he took his malfunctioning television to a repair shop. He was quoted a ridiculous amount to fix it. In those days televisions were repairable, and a television repairman had all the rectitude of today’s lawyer. Dad took the TV home, traced the schematic, and repaired it himself. He immediately enrolled in a correspondence course and before long he was a part-time television repairman. Because he was honest, word soon spread and he had more work than he could handle. He finally tired of middle-of-the-night calls and closed shop. He never taught me any of his handyman skills and in turn, my kids are equally helpless. He once said that once I got interested in fixing cars I would do nothing else. He always expected that I would make enough money to afford to pay others to fix my stuff. Bad plan dad.

Volume 2 will be posted tomorrow.

14 comments:

bundleocontradictions said...

Wow. Okay, I didn't read all the way through, but I did skim the whole thing. I think the men of that era were mysterious on the whole. Even those closest to them often didn't know what was goin' on inside. That's the way my mom describes her dad, anyway. I think I'd go crazy if my husband were that way.
Great post!

Skittles said...

I sometimes post long stories and include photos that mean so much to me and I know somehow they won't matter as much to strangers. With that in mind, I tried to really hear what you were saying while looking at the wonderful man in the pictures.

forgetfulone said...

This topic also made me think of my dad, but I haven't posted anything yet.

Shyam said...

That was interesting reading, loved the photos too... and man oh man, your dad was GOOD LOOKING! Looking forward to more about your dad, for more than one reason:
- I like the way you write.
- I love old photos with write-ups that give a glimpse into the past, even if I'm reading about total strangers. It's like living history.

Hootin' Anni said...

I personally really LIKE long posts, because it gives much much more insight to the whole blog entry itself. Not just a 'teaser'. I loved this tribute to your father and all the traits you've picked up on yourself and even passed it to the next generation....the love of baseball and all!!!

Terrific. And I enjoyed it....ALL of it.


My H o T legend this week is posted now...do drop by if you have a moment.

Happy Tuesday.

Misty Dawn said...

I think it is wonderful of you to write down the 'legend' of your father so it will not be lost. They are our blogs to use for whatever purpose we determine, and I believe this purpose is very meaningful.

I am sorry he was always sad. Do you think it was his circumstances, or depression before it was well known? Exactly how fast can they type with two fingers?

myrtle beached whale said...

Misty Dawn:

Dad wasn't always sad, there was just a subtext of sadness. Isn't that the case with a lot of alcoholics? At least 75 WPM. Incredible.

Redheels said...

I really enjoyed volume one and I am looking forward to reading the upcoming volumes.

Reading this made me think about my Dad. He could fix anything! I thought all dads could do that, but later I found out that wasn't true. It was a true gift.

Anonymous said...

I am soooo glad you are writing these down. I love reading about Grandpa. Thanks for sharing. Love ya Carly

Anonymous said...

In thinking of some of the sadness discussed, I think it was just a harder life in those days. We take for granted how easy things are these days with technology and advancements and even the type of work we do, primarily. In Grandpa's eyes in a lot of the pictures, you can see, it was just a harder time. Love ya Carly

Karen said...

I loved reading about a true legend. He sounds like a steady guy who filled you with fond memories. None of the people we love are perfect but we love them just the same. It is good to get these memories down where they can be saved. I love that your daughter commented here!

Tricia said...

Thank you for sharing a part of your life with us. You must save this and future editions for your children and their children. When I think of all the family stories I've heard and then let slip away it makes me sad. I will definately be back to read some more.

Robyn Jones said...

I enjoyed what I had time to read of it...(toddler and a three month old...) I will come back later when diapers aren`t calling..LOL! Very interesting...Great post!

Tumblewords: said...

Nicely done and an invaluable lookback. Seems many of us seem to know less and less of our family history. My parents could fix anything, too, and didn't reveal much about their inner selves to us. Thanks for sharing...