Monday, April 20, 2015

Strokes and Dads

The other day, I was talking with my 10 year old son about my childhood. He is getting more mature. The nuances of life make him ask questions about my life and our ancestors.

He asked about when I was 10 years old like him. “Where did you live? What did you do every day? Who were your friends? What were your interests?”

He does have some information, but now he genuinely wants to know.

During the drive, I drove him past my dad’s mobile home.

“Your dad lived there?” he said surprised.  

“Yup,” I replied. 

Mark and Stan Dunham! New Mobile Home in 1971
When I was 8 years old, my parents got divorced. We were in Twin Falls, Idaho, but my dad moved to Boise after that because he get a job promotion. Your Grandma remarried and we lived in Twin Falls. However, my dad bought a mobile home. At the point, that was all he could afford.”

My son asked, “Did you see your dad much.”

I said, “After the divorce, I actually had a much closer relationship this my dad. I did not really know him because he worked all of the time. After the divorce and when Dad moved to Boise, I spent weekends with him a lot. I would ride the bus from Twin Falls to Boise. During the summer, I would spend several weeks in Boise with Dad even the he was working.”

“Wow!” our son exclaimed. “When you were alone, what did you do? Were you scared?”

Twin Falls, ID Bus Depot 
I laughed and said, “Well, there was no cable TV so I could watch three channels on a black and white TV. Or I read. A lot! During bus rides and when Dad was working, I read the ‘Hardy Boys.’ I also drew a lot. I would draw alien worlds or cityscapes. I could not go outside because of safety.”

Our son asked about “What did you eat? Could you use the microwave?”

I laughed again!  “Hmmmm. No! When I was a kid, no one had microwaves. The stone age!”   

Incredulous, he asked, “What did you eat?”

I smiled. “I learned to cook when I pretty small. Not just soup. Full blown dinners. I would make dinner for Dad! I loved to cook. Even now. After the strokes, I was so upset anyway, but I dismayed that I believed I could never cook again.”

He asked, “Where you lonely?”

“Good question,” I said. “Maybe? But I did not think about it. This was my life. I grew up really fast, but I am grateful. I had a sense of independence because I had responsibilities young in life. I did not know any difference.”

Our son raised his eyebrows and said, “Mmmm. Wow.” And then he changed the subject.  

I love that my son and I talk about mature things. Because of my strokes, he has grown up too fast also like me. I am proud of him. Sometimes I sense that he is also lonely like I was. He is funny, smart, and gregarious. But, sometimes when I watch him, I see him looking off in the distance. Sometimes he seems distant. Wonder what he in thinking? What will be his future given his parents and my medical issues?

In an old blog post, I referenced a comment about me. When I was 24 four years old, I friend of mine said “You have an old soul.” I am concerned that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

When my dad was dying, in the hospital, Dad said, “I worked too much. I thought that providing for my family was just making a good living. I realized later, being a good dad was not just about the money. It was being present. If you ever have a son, Mark, please be involved in every way.”

I think of my dad every day. When my son and I have discussions like my dad living in a “trailer,” I am happy that my dad and I became close in that 60' x 12' trailer.

Yes, I grew up fast like my son:  “Like father, like son.” Yet, I am thankful that my dad and I had such a special relationship where we talked about everything in our shared lives. Hope my relationship with my son will grow like with my dad and me.  

I think my strokes were a blessing disguise. I am a stay at home dad now. My dad would be proud. 

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