I went through my early childhood thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I alternately went through several “stages” of wanting to be different things.
At twelve, I wanted to be a baseball player. That was the year after Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris battled it out for the home run title in ’61, with Maris winning and setting a “non steroid” record of 61 home runs in one season. I ate, slept and dreamed of baseball. I was a pretty decent ballplayer. I had the best hitting average in my one year in little leagure and my three years in pony league (you can look it up in the “Facts” sports page if you wanna’) Then…I hurt my knee and couldn’t play baseball for several weeks. My doctor wanted me to walk as part of my recuperation, so my Dad bought me an old set of left handed golf clubs. I fell in love with golf.
That was in 1964, and for the next four years golf was my sport. i read Arnold Palmer’s book….and he was my hero. I imitated his super fast and over dramatic swing. I wanted to be a pro golfer! I did pretty good at golf, winning some medals in High School at some of the matches, although I was very inconsistent. (one week, a round of 73, the next week a round of 90) I almost won a 27 hole Jaycee tournament my senior year with a great score….but got beat by Andy Bean.
At the same time in school, I got really interested in writing and journalism. I loved to write. Poetry, stories, news articles…you name it. I decided it would be better for me if I became a journalist when I grew up, instead of a golfer or a baseball player. My parents didn’t really care what I did…as long as I went to college and got a “good education” as my Dad always said.
My childhood and growing up years were troubled. My Mom had mental health issues. Most of those years were far from what one would consider a “normal” Leave it to Beaver type family setting. (although I want to say that my folks became very different once they became Grandparents, and more deeply loving. and they had always cared for us as children as much as they could…some things that happened just couldn’t be helped back then)
Deep in my heart, very deeply within my soul I felt that I needed to proceed differently if and when I became a Father and a family man. I made a decision somewhere along the line that one of my main goals in life, if not my only main goal in life would be to have a family and try and give them love and as much security as possible.
I watched yesterday afternoon and last night as all the family was gathered together for the fourth of July, with the exception of two of my grandchildren, but gathered together nonetheless. I watched them interact with each other. We didn’t have any major fights or arguments. There wasn’t any shouting, except the little grandchildrent “whooping” it up. We had friends of the family over…boyfriends…good friends from church. We had a good time, as far as good times can be had.
I finally figured out last night, as I have always really already known from the time I walked out of my parents house at 17 years of age to go to college, and got married shortly before my 19th birthday…I figured out what I wanted to be when I grow up. Not a baseball player, or a golfer. Not a journalist or a novelist. Not a businessman..which I certainly am not, and never will be! Not really a super succesful textile and carpet supervisor and manager either. Just middlin…
I just wanted to be a Dad, and a Papa. I’m like one of the old Cajun guys on that show “Swamp People” who called his children “Dad” and his grandchildren “Pa” because that’s what he wanted to hear them say to him. That’s what I wanted to be, and to hear when I grew up. That, and a halfway decent husband.
Now, I’m not writing this to elicit any responses from anyone. That’s not the purpose. This is written strictly for my cathartic need. It is written singly for my purpose of getting it out of my brain and onto a “piece of paper” so that it can be said, and so that I know that’s what I wanted for myself. I don’t really know how it’s all turned out…how it will all really turn out in the long run. It seems ok to me, though. That’s what I wanted to grow up to be….
Nothing less, nothing more.