Father’s day. It just doesn’t seem to receive the same massive hallmark outpouring as Mother’s day. And yet, contrary to what media has tried to tell us these past decades, dad’s can be pretty important to a child’s development.
So, I thought I’d introduce you to my dad, the man who played a very important part of shaping who I am as a woman today. ( And I know you all think I’m pretty damn amazing, so there you go.)
Stuart Livingstone Miller. There is some disagreement as to whether that “e” ought to be at the end of his 2nd name. New Englander born and raised. Massachusetts born.
Then raised in this house in Portland, Maine
When he grew up, he went to West Point Military Academy, where he met my mom, Betty Catharine, who was a nurse in NYC. Upon his graduation, they were married at the chapel at West Point, crossed swords and all.
They honeymooned at that most popular destination, Niagara Falls, NY.
His country called, and he deployed to the war zone in Korea, where, on his first day of duty, taking over command from David Hackworth, he was called upon to negotiate a hostage release with a soldier who just couldn’t deal with the battle stress any longer, and was holding a gun to the head of a fellow GI. My dad traded places with him and talked the guy down.
He served his country proudly, rotating overseas to Germany to participate in the Berlin air drop, plus two other times there in various locales. I remember one of our tours in Germany when the 6 Day war happened, between Israel, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. I’d come home from school never knowing if my dad would be home or be gone. Tense time, even at my young age.
He spent 6 months over in Turkey, on a solitary tour.
He spent 20 years in the Army, and retired as a Lt Colonel. At the end of his career, he had the choice of either going to Vietnam or retiring. You do the math. Eight dependents, nine counting my mom (though she hated that term, as do I!) Already 24 years of service, constantly traveling with the military-he retired honorably.
My mom and dad divorced-no surprise there. He lives out west in Colorado now, remarried. I’ve seen him a couple of times as we’ve traveled as Happily Homeless, and we’ll be visiting him again in the fall on our way out West. I’m so looking forward to seeing him. He’s got a great sense of humor, and he passed that along to me. I have funny memories of childhood Halloweens with him scaring the neighbor kids. When I was 10 I discovered my Scottish roots and went nuts for it. My dad was my compatriot throughout my high school years as I attended Scottish festivals to soak in the excitement of bagpipes and dancers. After my trip to Scotland when I was 16, where I purchased a can of haggis-yes, it comes in cans apparently-I gave it to him as a gift. My next birthday I got it back from him, wrapped. And I sent it again to him for Christmas. We sent it back and forth for years, until one year we didn’t. Somewhere, that can of haggis still exists. Probably ready to explode at this point!
My dad is a decent man. He doesn’t think his life has amounted to much. I disagree. Yeah, he isn’t famous, but he matters. My siblings and I aren’t particularly close, some of us, and we’ve had to do some healing work along the way, but we’re all strong, intelligent adults, and we’re raising strong kids. He’s a good man, and I called him today to make sure he knows I think so. And that I love him. He’s my dad.