Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Some looks you never lose. This young smartass posing for his obligatory team picture is my father at I am guessing about age 14 or 15. The location is Sewickley, PA and the year around 1919. His father, my grandfather had been dead 5 or 6 years at this point. Blocked colon or something similar considered no problem for todays Medical Magicians.

I remember this look as a kid and as an adult. When contemplating mischief or a particularly biting and snide remark, he would often pump up with a look that looked just like this. I learned to hate this look when it was aimed in my direction. I had either said something considered stupid, done something considered stupid, or just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I loved my dad. But I hated him for finding my stupidity as a lad, though I eventually came to love him for doing it. His insistence that I get it right, whatever "it" was has served me well these last 55 years.

He grew up basically without a father. Grand Pa Macrum died when he was 8. His world was one ruled by women. An older sister, Helen, a Grandmother and his mother, Elisabeth all made sure young Bobbie was toeing the line. I have no clue how this affected his life overall, but it must have had it's impact. He referred to it on a regular basis.

My dad was not perfect. He was a lifelong functioning alcoholic, was married 3 times (once to a real looney tune who ended up having a good excuse - a brain tumor) and smoked right up to the day he dropped dead in the kitchen. He and Mom were exchanging humorous comments about some Today Show segment while they enjoyed their morning coffee. My mom let loose with some funny remark. He chuckled, clutched his chest, stood up and dropped dead at age 75. At least he died laughing.

His third wife was my mother. Married her when he was 45 and she was 35. I was born unplanned when he was 46 and had already raised 2 other children. Well sort of raised them. His second wife Dorothy the Whacko, packed up the kids in the 1940s while Dad was dealing with helping the Marshall Plan to re-make Europe in our image and moved to Mexico. It would not be until the 70s, that he reconciled with my half siblings. I am a bit hazy about this. I think it's how it panned out though.

His life was filled with sadness. Yet he was one of the funniest people I ever met. A wit that often hurt but was always razor sharp. His timing often perfect.

Even with all his faults, he rose steadily up the ladder in the Army Air Corp and then later the US Air Force, retiring with one star on his shoulder. He set the bar high for himself and often wondered why others did not follow suit. Suffering fools better than my Mom, he had a way of getting the best from those around him. A natural leader.

I miss him often and wish I had not been such an asshole the last time I saw him. I know he would hold no grudge, but still our last get-together was marked by harsh words from both of us. We were both half in the bag and stupid words fueled by alcohol were exchanged.

Just a few thoughts and moments spent remembering someone who helped me become what I am and finding some regret that I may have fallen short of his expectations.


Brambor said...

good stuff. nice pictures. He looks more like 17 in the first pic ... my lame guess.

KayInMaine said...

You're making me sad, Mr Macrum. My Dad is still alive (he's in his late 1960's) and if he died tomorrow I would be completely devastated. Why? Because he has given me, my sister, and my brother (mother too!) the best life we could ask for and I wished I could share him with you!!! He's never been rich nor has he ever strive to be, but his giving, kindness, humor, and sensitivity is what makes him "wealthy".

His sense of humor is the constant echo in the back of mind all the time. He's always with me (he and my mother go to Florida for the winter) and I know my Dad's sense of humor stems from his abuse and neglect growing up in Portland at the hands of his alcoholic mother and father. Just like your father, he endured a lot as a little boy (something we kids never had to feel!)....but luckily...he had his half-sister Nellie who was 10 years older than him to show him what love and caring is. I swear he learned to love and laugh because of his sister! And....

....I bet you're a terrific father and person, Mr Macrum, because of your Dad too. :-)

Take care and thanks for sharing a part of your life with us.

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

Thanks for this terrific and very personal entry, Mr. Macrum.

In a sense I am more like your dad than you, in that I lost my father during my childhood (died of a heart attack).

What is it about us men who have lost their dads that makes us think we would have disappointed them? Hard to put my finger on it, but I can most definitely relate to the feelings you express.

Take care.