(My dad, in Afghanistan, a bit road weary after riding in a Hum-V all afternoon.)
I have decided to finally try to tackle a subject very near and dear to me – my dad. The whole topic of my father has been a daunting one but one I have been itching to blog about for some time. There is no way I could possibly explain all that he does or the adventures he has in one measly post. But he is kind of a fascinating guy. And there is no doubt about this fact: he is absolutely “blogworthy”. (Mom, you are too and will play a prominent role in many of these stories, I am sure.) So let me take a brief moment here – appropriately on Father’s Day – to introduce him to you.
My dad grew up in a regular home in the regular town of Watertown, Connecticut. Up until the age of 18, he had never flown on a plane. (This is a crazy concept considering what he does now, but I will get to that in a moment.) He is the oldest of four; 7 years separated him and the next sibling, 18 years separate him and his youngest sibling. His mother, my name sake, adored my father. In fact, while my grandfather fought in World War II, my father and his very loving however “June Ward-esque” mother were the only ones at home for many years. My father remembers “meeting” his father for the first time and …ahem… not being as “welcome” in his parents bedroom in the days following. Nevertheless, growing up, my father was the second man in charge. While he looked to his father as a strong example in his life, innately, he seemed to carry the trait of a leader all on his own.
Soon after my father turned 30, my grandmother passed away very suddenly. My grandfather went into a deep period of mourning and struggled to care for the remaining children at home. My dad, solidifing his role as the family leader, stepped in and brought my younger aunt and uncle (still very young children at the time) home to live with us for a few years while my older uncle attended college. My dad became as much of a parent as he was a brother to all three of his siblings.
Having the charm of his father and diplomacy skills of his mother, my dad has a personality people seem to be attracted to. He tells great stories, he’s smart, he’s got a wonderful laugh and a deep rich voice. My father is an excellent public speaker, a very talented writer and an annoyingly accurate editor (ugh, high school essays always got exceedingly red-penned if I dared ask for his advice). He is highly skilled at listening and discerning an issue, while being respectful of those he works with or meets in the field. People ask him for advice, people want his approval, people really really like him – I know I do.
But he is hardly perfect. Scatterbrained might be the first thing to leap to the minds of those who love him as much as I do. I would bet if you asked him right now where his glasses, his wallet, his keys and his cell phone were…. it would take some hemming and hawing and frustrated grumblings until they were tracked down. He mixes his sibling’s names up with his children and his children’s are often confused with his grandchildren’s. My grandmother was a tad doting and, as a result, I am still not sure he knows how to wash his own shirts; I would hardly describe him as domestic. At all. Bills? Paperwork? Dates of important events? Forget it. And if you ever plan to get out the door somewhere with him, best of luck to you my friend. Maybe he procrastinates, yes, but I just don’t think he thoroughly “gets” the concept of time or how long it takes to actually do something. If there were EVER a man who needed one of those very cool, collected, one-step-ahead-of-the-game personal celebrity assistants – oh please, yes, for all our sanities – it would be him.
Dad, I love you. But you KNOW I’m right on this.
So anyway, back to the blogworthy stuff. Now, what is it that my father chose to do with his life? Well, as early as twelve years old he knew – and he did it. He decided he wanted to go into the foreign service. He had never even been on a plane but he knew that he wanted to learn about other cultures, speak different languages, discover the adventures of travel and adopt a service oriented career and lifestyle. And after attending a prominent boys prep school, followed by a little ol’ college named Harvard, he began his career in the Peace Corps. From there, the road is long, winding and filled with “Indiana Jones” like experiences all over the globe.
Did I mention to you that his work feeds him? It keeps him passionate and fans the fire within. He absolutely adores his work. But as a result, he is always somewhere else – and never here. All of his siblings, his wife, his children – well, we miss him and that is a constant. But he is a man on the move, he loves what he does, it keeps him young and, I can honestly say, he is changing the world one job post at a time.
He always tells the story about some crotchety old aunt of his who said to him for many years “Oh Roger, when are you going to stop all this traveling nonsense and come home to get a ‘real’ job?” What a laugh we have. His job is as “real” as it gets.
I haven’t left you much to go on regarding my father’s adventures, have I? Well, there’s too much to talk about. And that’s the point of this post. I have decided that, now and again, I am going to post a little story about what he’s done or what he’s doing. And yes, while he is technically considered retired, my father has spent these “retirement” years as an independent contractor in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Yemen and he is currently in Hanoi, Vietnam… just to name a few. There is much to tell and more stories to come. All of it, I can assure you, is guaranteed to be blogworthy. So please, humor me, and read along when you can.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad! Where ever the heck you are.