Today would have been his 100th birthday. He passed away in 2003, just a few weeks shy of his 90th. Honestly, I thought he would live forever, just out of sheer orneriness. I suppose I am making him sound terrible. He wasn't, he was just tough. He had to be. He lived through the Great Depression, he worked in many different professions and built many successful businesses over the course of his life, and he was married multiple times. By the time he got to me he had already raised 5 children.
That's my mom and Ken on their wedding day, April 1, 1977. You read that right, April Fool's Day. I always thought it was kind of funny, since most folks thought he was her dad, not her husband. There was 30+ years difference in their ages, after all. So, we had to forgive the confusion. Heck, his oldest son was 6 years older than my mom.
Daddy really was tough, and growing up there were times when I hated him. I know that my older step siblings felt much the same way as he had turbulent relationships with each of them. In fact, I only met my oldest step sister at his funeral. I had given his eulogy and after the service she came up, introduced herself and said "I'm glad he was a good father to you". While I stood there in shock she disappeared into the small crowd and I never saw her again. I wish I could have told her that in his last years he regretted some of his choices, that he tried to make amends with the children he had contact with. I wish I could have told her to look back, find the good things and hang on to them and let the rest go. Let the bad stuff die with him. That's what I did. After all, he was just a man. And he did the best he could.
|taken sometime in the late 70's|
I have truly made a conscious choice to focus on the gifts that he left me. Like my relationship with my mom. Daddy drilled it into my head that one day it would just be me and her (he was off by one, not taking my sweet hubby into account) and that I would have to be there for her. He made sure I respected her. He made sure I was always aware and grateful for her presence in my life. I am sure this was because he missed his own mother greatly, though he never spoke of her to me.
The other great gift he left me was a spirit of stubbornness. I definitely inherited that trait in full measure and it has served me well through the years. During the tough times in marriage (we all have those, right?) when I could have run for the hills, I stuck it out. I refused to give up. When a job was tough, I was tougher. For years I worked in a local pharmacy (my first pharmacy job) with a horrible pharmacist who basically ran off every other tech who worked there. I went home crying night after night. But I needed that job, and I determined that he would NOT run me off. That job was the springboard I used to get to the job I have held for the last 17 years. (And yes, I stayed in that old job for 5 years, but he left before I did. And that fact does make me smile.)
Daddy was opinionated and obnoxious at times, so sure that his way was the only way. And I'm not sure he ever really understood this strange child he inherited when he married my mother. But in the end, we were a family. We took care of each other. And that is really all that matters.
Ken Wilson was an ornery, stubborn, and sometimes cantankerous old man. He was also a good man. He helped make me into the woman that I am today, for better or worse. And I miss him.
|my hubby, me, and Dad on my birthday in 1999. Not the greatest picture, but still one of my favorites.|
Happy 100th birthday Daddy. Thank you for everything. I hope you have found peace.