As I have been transcribing Mom's journals, it's been fun and, sometimes, enlightening to read of her life and experiences. Mom and I were very close so there haven't been a lot of surprises or shocks. If anything, she only reinforces things I already knew about her.
I have been moderately surprised when she has talked of jealousy she had over how my grandmother favored her daughter (my aunt) over her other children or dissatisfaction with her service in the church, but I wasn't too surprised by things like that.
What did take me aback, which I never knew until just this week, was that there was a period in 1988 when Dad was on antidepressants and seeing a psychologist. I never knew that at all. I talked to my sister, who is older than me, and she knew nothing about it, either.
Here's what I did know:
1. In March of 1984, Dad had a small stroke. Between then and about January of 1988 he had at least one more and possibly a third, undiagnosed one.
2. In early 1988 Dad's boss was concerned with his performance and ordered him to be medically examined on the company's dime. Dad at this time had slowed down and his memory and ability to learn new concepts was impaired.
3. Dad disliked his job and found it very stressful. While I didn't know all the details, I know Dad had difficulty with his boss and work environment and was not happy in his job for many years.
4. Dad eventually was given a medical disability and retired in April 1988. He was happier as a result but continued to have serious strokes and health issues until his death in October of 1992
Apparently, as a condition of his company-ordered medical examination he saw a psychologist. Mom indicates that Dad was very depressed during the time we was still employed and seeing this psychologist. Apparently she prescribed him some antidepressants, which he took for a short time before he retired. I never knew any of that.
Dad was a quiet guy who never talked much or complained. He was a good man who worked hard to provide for his family. I loved him very much, but I do wish he had communicated more. According to her journals, so did Mom.
I sometimes feel bad because for years Dad was stuck in a job he didn't seem to like very much. Even in the early eighties, Mom indicates that Dad has desires to quit and yet he worked there for 28 years, and on some level, I've always thought his job was partially responsible for his health problems and his early death.
Mom told me once that Dad would have liked to open a record shop. Dad loved music and that was one thing he talked about doing early in his relationship with Mom. Instead he went into computer programming and worked for a life insurance company. I often feel that Dad did so out of a duty to support and provide for his family. While I admire him for being a good provider (and he did a good job at it), I also feel his job interfered with his personal health, satisfaction, and happiness, and watching his experience is one of the reason I've always tried to do the kind of work that brings me fulfillment and happiness even if it's not always as financially lucrative. I think that philosophy has served me well even if it hasn't always served my pocketbook as admirably.
I miss Dad. He was a good man. I always think of Dad as "behind-the-scenes" rather than "on stage." Without him, the success of the "production" that is our family would not have been what it was at all. But he was very unassuming and quiet about how he did things. He quietly paid bills, planned vacation itineraries, and worked hard to earn the money needed to provide for us and give us a little extra so we could take those vacations, which are some of my most cherished memories.
He would stop at the store on the way home from work and buy each of us kids a candy bar. He would drive me to school on his way to work. He would sit quietly in the living room and listen to music or watch a game on TV to relax.
Dad and I didn't have a ton in common. He was big football fan, loved to fish, and enjoyed country music, none of which I cared for. He wasn't a big talker, whereas I loved to talk. I just naturally gravitated to Mom, who loved old movies and theatre and who loved to talk about anything and everything. I adored my dad; he was hard-working, loving, thoughtful, even-tempered and was a terrific example of quiet endurance. But I didn't know my dad very well. I didn't always know what he was thinking and he never shared much about his life. And he died relatively young when I was only 21.
I have great memories of him, though, and I wish he would have been more personally fulfilled. He made the choices he made and they greatly benefited our family. Like my mom, he lived for his family. I just sometimes he could have found a better balance with living for himself.