|Back in our day . . .||
Awwwww, who couldn't love that baby? Apparently, his parents... In my last post I described my adventures during the process of just staying alive long enough to be born. I guess now I should try to talk about what I inherited from these parents, neither of whom had any patience for anything that might tie them to a life of stability. As you might imagine, this is going to be difficult, having barely known one of them, and never laid eyes on the other, but we'll see what can be accomplished. The easy one first: My dad.
You might think he would be the hard one, not knowing anything about him, but that's what makes him easy; I say next to nothing, and I'm done. They say I'm the spitting image of him. I always thought I looked like mom when I was younger, but maybe they weren't all that different. I have one picture of him somewhere. It doesn't come readily to hand, and I don't want to hold this blog up for a week while I look for it, so you'll have to take my word for it. That's what I've had to do my whole life. But here's an interesting anecdote:
Once upon a time, before I got my current job, I worked in an office where squadron personnel came in to pick up their invoices. One day an older lieutenant, what they call a "Mustang," meaning he was an enlisted man who worked his way up to officer, came in. The guy was nearly my age, and looked just like me. Heavy-set, round face, seriously, it was like looking in a mirror. His nametag read "TYLER." We had a few moments to talk, and it turns out he was from northern Georgia, dad's ancestral home, and he didn't know his father, either. Probably just an eerie coincidence, but food for thought; I mean, the guy treated one woman like a sex toy, why not another? Just sayin', you know? We had plans to meet off duty for a good old fashioned chin wag, but his unit was shortly deployed to Operation Desert Shield, and I never saw him again. As to dad's genetics, I know absolutely nothing. I guess they're okay, though. I turn 65 next week, and all I have is hereditary migraine (from mom's side of the family) and a pre-diabetic condition that's being successfully treated (so far) through diet.
And then there's mom. The professional gambler, you'll remember. She cleaned up well, I have to say. She usually made it back into town for holidays from whatever hotbed of high-stakes card rooms she was frequenting. Christmas almost always, and my birthday occasionally... More at first. This picture would have been taken on one of her "state visits." I'm pretty sure I'm three here, which would make her twenty.
Mom may not have looked like much of a handful in her A-line dress here, but she was rougher than a stucco bathtub. If Lara Croft had run afoul of her, we'd all be playing Tomb Raider-Slayer today. I always knew when there was about to be an impending visit, because grandma would cackle with glee, and regale me with assurances that she would be putting her fist right through me. It was a long time before she figured out why I was always in hiding when her cab pulled up to the house. Or maybe it wasn't. She couldn't have had much of a childhood if she was raised by my grandparents, and that may explain her morose moodiness, and desire to be far, far away all the time. I share a lot of that...
But I'm drifting off subject. The subject here is what I inherited from my parents, genetically and personality-wise, and maybe that complete comfort with being alone with my thoughts is part of it. I can be moody like she was, though I make a conscious effort to moderate it, and I tend to withdraw from contact when I feel like I'm being ridiculed or denigrated. You've been warned...
Genetically, there was always buzz around the family that her kidneys were bad, but I see no sign of that in my own life. The migraine was present in my great-grandmother, skipped grandma, but mom had a migraine-like pain that would flare up in her neck independently of any exercise or trauma. Migraine in the neck, is that possible? She was also said to have had asthma, which seems to afflict me in a minor fashion, only after exceptionally hard exertion. The diabetic proclivity seems to come from her as well. She was heavy, and so am I. Aside from a general similarity in the face, I don't know what else.
I think I could have liked mom. I lived with her for two weeks during the summers I was 12 and 14, and attended a semester of high school from under her roof when I was 16. During those times, I was treated like I had a brain, and was allowed to use it to exercise control over some non-life threatening aspects of my own life. But there was always some drama, real or imagined, that reared its head, and I would be packed off back to grandma. What I think is that she tired of having a kid around, figured she had gotten all she could out of the experience, and "something came up."
So what I think I ultimately inherited from my parents was a real firm sense of how to be a rotten parent. People have expressed amazement, given the kind of parents I had, at how good I am at it. I don't know about that; my kids have problems that I might have been able to spare them were I more skilled or attentive, but I sure had a real good model of what not to do! So, thanks for that, Mom & Dad. Things may not have gone the way I would have chosen, had I been offered a choice, but you showed me more than you ever planned or knew about.
All right, like it says in the intro, this is being done for family members, and these are things that future Tylers need to know. But I recognize the tone of doom-and-gloom that's crept in here, so next time out, I'm going to take a break from all that, and talk about the neighborhoods I lived in growing up. There's some comedy to be milked from that, so y'all take care of yourselves, and I'll see you in a week or so!
All the best,
This is for the grandkids, the family, close friends, and anyone else who can keep a civil tongue in their heads! It amounts to an interactive book of memoirs, but only if you interact... so get to it!
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California has been my home since 1965. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I'm home to stay!
What is there to say about a ten-year old turning 65, besides, what the hell happened?!??