Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day: Just Another Conversation My Dad and I Never Had

Norfolk & Western Railway Herald. Source allow...Image via Wikipedia

I wonder how many people were born on the day their fathers died? I wasn't. My question is not that gaudy a rhetorical flourish. But I was born on June 10, 1944, and I am sure the combat that day, only four days after D-day, was fierce enough that more than one soldier died in France even as his child was coming into the world stateside.

I'm not quite sure what the logistics would have had to have been to put the soldier next to his significant other nine months previous, but I'm sure it was managed.

Nine months previous to my birth my dad was exactly where he was on the day I was born, working for the N&W railroad in the switching yards in Roanoke, Virginia. He almost never worked "the road," as they called it. He liked staying at home.

His new father-in-law had gotten him a railroad job in the late Thirties, new father-in-law being a minor railroad executive. My sister was born in 1938, and railroads were -- actually *were* -- an important part of the war effort, so it made sense that my dad stayed on the job and resisted the romance of enlisting. He had duties and responsibilities.

But all this is assumed. I was occasionally curious about his sticking around, but I suppose the self-evident charms of my own existence -- for I was for many years a man of destiny, having been (of course) before that a boy of destiny -- made it equally self-evident that he needed to be home to sire my sweet self.

That's one reason I never asked him about why he didn't go to war. Also, as a man/boy of destiny, I understood it might be an embarrassing question. What didn't you do in the war, papa?

It's just another of our unasked questions. There were many. I'm sure he had just as many in relation to me: Why *did* you quit loving your Lord Jesus? Why do you seem to prefer your wife to your mother and father? Why do you seem to prefer your *cats* to your mother and father! Why won't you come home to visit more often?

Isn't it interesting that if you pile certain questions together they almost answer themselves?
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