Monday, June 20, 2005

For the Captain

Since yesterday was Father's Day I keep being nagged by the feeling that I should write something about my dad. I just don't know where to begin.

My dad has reached an almost "legendary" status in the family and I'm not sure I really want to continue down that road. He was human and a very real person. I can only imagine that he'd be less than impressed by having been reduced to a "legend".

My father was, as I commonly say, an engineer by training and a Naval officer by choice. He was a very intelligent man and one who believed in precision and discipline. His nickname is my given name and I look and sound like him. There's a picture from last fall where I look so much like him that it's a little frightening. It's made me realize that there's a part of me that doesn't want to look like the old man. Part of that comes with the name and the looks. I've been "little" J and "young" J and JD (to his JK) for most of my life. Being held up to that standard has always felt like an impossible burden. Even with "The Captain" gone for five years it still feels like I 'm just not going to live up to him. And I think that would make him sad.

I don't think that Pop ever wanted us (three boys in my family) to feel like he was setting us up to fall short. In fact I'm sure that his goal was to set us up to succeed. To have the discipline needed to survive the hard times and use our intelligence to guide us through the good times. I know that he took the task of parenthood very seriously. Looking back maybe we would have better off if he'd taken it just a shade less seriously. But he was a serious person.

I see a lot of him in me and my brothers, both good and bad. We've all gone our own ways, done our own things and on balance have done pretty well for ourselves. While some folks look at us, so reserved and quiet mostly, and think that we're not very close I know that's not true. In times of trouble my brothers have been there for me and I know that I can trust them completely. I hope they feel the same way about me. Not a day goes by when I don't think about them. And my dad. I see his negatives too. We can be brusque and none of us tolerate fools. Period. We're not real good at getting all emotionally expressive and don't trust that part of our personalities much. Big emotional displays will pretty much put us into shut down mode till we can "move on". I'm not apologizing for that, it's who we are. There are advantages and disadvantages to it. It can make it hard on the folks around us that we love. If I had to chose two guys to have on either side of me when the troubles begin they would be at the top of the list.

So I can't get away from who my father was because it's very much caught up in who I am. After five years I miss him, even the times when he made me feel like an idiot schoolboy. I was finally getting to the point where I could catch him out sometimes too. He loved cars, and intelligent people. If you were his friend it was for life. His friends are still some of the most amazing people I've ever known. As was he.

He married a pretty incredible woman too. I'll probably talk about her sometime too.

On Father's day I remembered my daddy, my pop, my daughter's "Grandpa Captain Sir"

Jack K Phillippi, USNR (dec)



Anonymous said...

I would have included something about how, despite his overall seriousness, he introduced us to "Monty Python," indicating that he did appreciate humor. Otherwise, very nice tribute to our dad...DaYouthGuy's "big brother."

Da Youth Guy said...

Absolutely true. For all his seriousness he did have an active and sometimes wicked sense of humor.

And he's only my "big" brother cuz he's taller than me!