When I was a boy, I feared my father. He was 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 200 pounds. He was the strongest man I have ever personally known.
I was a sensitive and scared little boy; he was big and scary. He did a lot of yelling and threatening. Occasionally, he followed through and I got hit pretty hard from his belt. Boy, did it sting. I really did hate to see that belt come off.
My father was wound too tight as a young man. I don't know what caused him to be like this. He quit school his senior year and two years later, he married my mom and joined the Army. After an honorable discharge, he came home and worked for the railroad. He was laid off and went to work driving truck for Pennzoil.
That's where he worked for the biggest park of his adult life. Over a period of about 25 years, they had nine children - I was the second in line. My mother was always the sweetest, kindest woman I knew. She was the real deal, and still is. With nine kids and a truck driving job, we were poor.
However, my classmates never knew it. My mother did nothing for herself and spent no money on herself. She did everything for her children, and we were dressed as well as most other kids.
You could build monuments to my mother's selflessness. We never went on vacation and never had disposable income. Yet, we had a roof over our heads, good clothes and adequate food.
I saw a gradual change in my father. At age 40, he got his GED and then started night classes at Penn State University. He eventually got enough credits to teach some night classes at Altoona Senior High School, however, he didn't like it and quit.
Next, he took on his real mission in life. He became a pastor after more schooling, and he pastored for the next 35 years while still holding a job until age 65.
In this world where we talk about dysfunctional families and the psychological damage to children, I say Ozzie and Harriet only existed on the boob tube.
Unless you were sexually or physically abused as a child, I say get over it. I saw a counselor (Christian) years ago who encouraged me to remember my childhood and put the blame for my neurosis on my father. He was a quack.
It took me a while to figure this out. I'm not disparaging the mental health field in general - they have their place. However, be sure you find the right counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist.
Ask my children, and they'll tell you I was no gem. It's time for most of us to look no further than ourselves for the answers. The blame game gets old.
When we become adults, we become responsible for our actions. No one else is responsible for what
My dad is 79 and my mom is 75. They have health issues and I don't know how much longer I'll have them. My father now tells me that he "loves me" every time I see him. My mother always did. It's not so much where we've been as where we've come.
My dad changed from a mean and sometimes drunk young man into someone you could be proud to call Dad. The overly sensitive boy became a man and can only hope to emulate his father. At age 56, my fondest desire is to be just like my dad when I grow up.
Jay McCaulley is the production manager for The Sentinel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.