I am approaching the first anniversary of my Dad’s death and missing him. Dad was really good to me and gave me a lot of what I needed to succeed in life. He died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease on June 22nd of 2010.
The past couple of weeks I have been getting a bombardment of e-mail offers from various merchants asking me to think of them when purchasing a gift for dad this year. In the past they were just junk mail as I knew what I would get dad, usually a polo shirt or baseball hat, both of which I knew that he would wear around town or when he was still capable of doing so when he went golfing. This year they serve to remind me that dad is dead. It makes me see just how crass that mass marketing of retailers has become and the banal immorality and lack of respect that they have for people as they seek to sell their wares. I know that these businesses don’t know that my dad is dead but when I get offers from every type of retailer known to humanity to shop with them for him it just bothers me. It just seems that they are using my dad to try to get my money and that bothers me and maybe it should bother all of us. Just think retailers of all types prey upon us using the lives or the memories of our loved ones without any real personal connection to us. We are simply a target audience for them to sell their wares, it is called targeted advertising and while it is common now throughout the world it just seems to me that it is a type of not so subtle psychological manipulation, but I digress…
This year Father’s Day will be celebrated in June 19th which holds a special meaning to me. It was on that day that I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army and my dad and soon to be wife Judy pinned on my “gold bars” after I had sworn the oath to “Support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.” They had driven 350 miles that morning to be there since I was in transition and didn’t have a place of my own.
My dad was proud of me but wondered why the Army. He was a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer and Navy through and through. He had hoped though that I would take a path to civilian life and my mom hoped that I would come back home to teach history in a local high school. However that would not be the case because I had longed to serve in the military since I was a young boy knowing that I didn’t have the talent to be a professional baseball player. I loved the travel, adventure and military lifestyle and hated having to settle down after dad retired. This was not a problem for my mom and brother but I have always had the military wanderlust deep in my soul.
When I transferred to the Navy in 1999 it was one of the happiest moments of my dad’s life. When I was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in 2006 he was elated although his struggle with Alzheimer’s was becoming apparent to all of us. He died the day after my selection for promotion to Commander was announced without knowing about it. We buried him a few days later with full military honors.
He was sweet to Judy, especially as he became worse off because she took the time to include him in what she was doing, showing him things on the computer and talking with him. He would always tell her that he loved her and if talking to me, even late in life before his ability to communicate was completely gone would tell me to tell Judy that “I love her.”
Dad gave me many gifts especially the love of baseball, interest in world affairs and love of the military, though I don’t think that the last was his intention, though he accepted it at first and then embraced it as time went on. He and my brother became very close as Jeff stayed in our home town becoming a teacher and later school administrator. He doted on his grandchildren and I think that they helped keep him engaged during his battle with Alzheimer’s.
This is a rather melancholy weekend for me as I remember and reflect on my dad. I miss him but know that he is in a better place.
To those that have recently dealt with the loss of your dad I hope that your remembrance of Father’s Day is special. I know that not all dads are good dads and that some inflict terrible things on their children that scar them for life. For the victims of such abuse Father’s Day is painful and brings back memories that they don’t want to relive and I imagine that the barrage of advertisements must bring back terrible memories to the victims of abuse. The advertisements just serve to remind me that the dad who loved and raised me is dead, but for the victims of abuse they must only add to their pain. Maybe that is the banal immorality that I see in targeted marketing.
Anyway, I do pray that we all somehow have a happy Father’s Day.