Today is Father’s Day. A day when we celebrate fathers. It isn’t a sad day, it’s just a day like any other, like Mother’s Day. A day with no meaning. I never really got to know my Dad and I am not a father unless you count a father to wild ass dog.
I have memories of my father. Ernest Rossick Miller. He may or may not been named after Ernest Miller Hemingway. Don’t really know but it sounds good. I think he was a good man. He was a WWII veteran. His nickname was “Rat” and his sister called him Foss. Never knew why. I could understand the rat part but never knew the deal with Foss. He was a small man 5ft 6, maybe 125 lbs. He smoked Viceroy’s until one day he quit and never picked them up again. He kept a pack in his toolbox but never smoked them. I never asked him why. I remember he had a fondness for buttermilk and cornbread and he put cheese on poundcake. Why? I do not know. I developed my love of baseball because of my dad. That is all I really knew about him.
I think life gave him a series of bad breaks some which were man made and some which were out of his control. Life is like that sometimes. My dad, I think was probably a sad man. My mom had ALS and died in her forties and was confined to a wheelchair for years before that. One of my most vivid memories was Dad coming home from working at “The Mill”, taking care of Mom then going to the living room and play solitaire until it was time to go to bed. I didn’t think about that too much then but now I realize the pain he must have been going through seeing the love of your life going through one of the most horrifying diseases one can go through.
Mom passed and being solid members of Belair United Methodist Church every Father’s Day and Mother’s Day the church would hand out red roses as you entered if you had a father or mother living and a white rose if you had a mother of father who had deceased. Dad never said anything about the white roses. I would imagine when he saw his boys with a white rose pinned to their lapel it would bring back memories. I don’t know why the Methodist church did that back in the day and they may do that now but personally I’m not to fond of white roses.
I think my dad was a very lonely man. He started dating after a couple of years and my brother and I were happy about that. He deserved happiness. I met a couple of his dates. Most of which were very nice except for the one he would ultimately marry and become my step mom. I’m sure there were some years of happiness for my dad and his new wife but unfortunately not for long. She was a raging alcoholic. I can remember dad coming home from work, finding her passed out. He would put her to bed, cook himself supper and go to the living room and play solitaire. This went on for years. One of the happiest days of my life was after another drunken rage she thumped a lit cigarette at him he calmly went to her and pinned her up against a wall and very nicely told her not to do that again. Ah yes…those wonderful memories of childhood.
I received a phone call one day and said that they had found my dad dead laying beside a loom in the weave room at “The Mill”. I wish I would have known my dad. I had my own demons in those days. I was not the perfect child. Dad and I weren’t on the best of terms. I would have loved for him to have been able to confide in me and let me know what he was going through instead of playing solitaire. I would have loved to have been there for him. I wish I would have talked to my dad. I wish dad would have talked to me.
We all have regrets. I have always tried to live my life not regretting yesterday. As I have gotten older I have tried to live my life so tomorrow you won’t regret today but on Father’s Day and Mother’s Day even after all the years I always seem to think about the white rose and playing solitaire.