I was born into a Catholic family, second in the birth order. I was thirteen before my little brother came along. My dad traveled 4-5 nights out of the week so therefore I had little time with him. Truly, to me (back then) it felt like living in a girl’s dormitory. I never realized what sacrifices my mom made for us kids. There was no such thing as mom’s day out back then. At Sunday lunch dad wouldalways eat the wings and the neck on the chicken. I just figured he enjoyed them. Eventually it dawned on me that there aren’t but so many parts to a chicken and divided seven or eight ways… Any way I was a miserable kid at home. I went into the US Navy when I was seventeen.
IN THE NAVY YEARS!
Wow! What can I say… I went into the Navy in ’72 before all of the drug testing. As a matter of fact I had such a sheltered life I (honestly) didn’t know there were drugs in the world (outside the drug store of course). I remember smoking my first joint. Man I was so stoned. It is said that pot is an entry level drug and for me it was. I really enjoyed pot the most. While in the Navy I toured (haha like I was on Carnival) all over the Med. (Spain, Itally, Greece, France, Scotland, Jamaica, Scotland, Cuba & Crete). I think I liked France the most. I mean what eighteen year old American boy doesn’t like a topless beach…until one of those girls raised their arm to scratch their head. Yuck! Greece had the best hash. Of course they would search us going back aboard ship but it was like the every twelfth or fifteenth person, so all you would have to do is switch places with someone (I was on the JFK with 5K of my closest friends in an A7 squadron). We would smuggle our hash back to Cecil Field. It was so simple. All we had to do was take the panels off the plains, stick our hashish behind something or other and put the panels back on. When we got back (three days after the planes arrived) all we had to do was go to the flight line and retrieve our stuff.
By this time I pretty much had the muggle head on all the time. If I wasn’t high I was drunk, or both. I mean that was the culture of the Navy back in the mid seventies.
EARLY MARRIED YEARS
I met my wive in December of ’73 (after an 11 month Med cruise) and we were married in May of ’74. We have kind of grown up together. Although (admittedly) she grew up much more quickly than I (i.e. she had to change her life style when she became pregnant. By my logic I was not pg so I did not). I was such a selfish ass. I continued my lifestyle of drugs/alcohol. I don’t recall being a violent person but my wife does. Perhaps it was during those times of black outs. At times I can not believe what a jerk I was in those days!
When my first daughter came along I would go over to Greg’s house to get stoned. One evening I said to my wife, “I’m going to go over to Greg’s”. My four year old little girl stood up in front of me, put her hand on her little hip and said, “Daddy, I thought you said you were going to quit doing that.” OUCH! That was the beginning of me realizing that it just may be me that was screwed up and not the rest of the world. Shortly after that I went into drug/alcohol treatment and left those so called friends behind.
LATER IN MARRIAGE
At some point we felt the dryness of the church we each were raised in and struggled to leave but eventually were able to break free. My girls went from “do we have to go to church” to “can we stay for the next service”. That’s a pretty awesome thing for a dad and mom to hear from their kids. We were plugged in pretty good and the Lord was doing a work in each of us. We had a lot of baggage that needed to be worked on because of our past life style and lack of spiritual teaching (or maybe it was our fault for not receiving the teaching presented). No matter what it was, by then we were becoming more spiritually mature. We recognise we have grown but also recognise we will always need to continue seeking His face.
We now have three grown (bio) daughters (one married, one widowed (Afghanistan Army medic shot by sniper) and youngest in college… oh! and our first two girls each gave us a grandson) Additionally we are almost finished with the process of adopting a four/six year old brother/sister (respectively). We have had our “new kids” for over two years and I must admit that it is quite a bit different raising young children in your fifties then it is in your 20s-30s. But we believe that this is what the Lord wants for us during this season of our life.
So we continue to run the race!