The Story of my Father

Steve Kinsman By Steve Kinsman, 3rd May 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1jpoo85b/
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Relationships

Writing the story of my father may only be an exercise in my own self --healing, but it may strike a chord in sons of other fathers as well.

Born to privilege

My dad was born in 1903 in New England with a silver spoon in his mouth, to a wealthy merchant father and a doting mother. Spoiled as a child, he and his sister, three years older, never lacked for anything throughout their childhoods. Pampered and coddled he was.

Upon graduation from high school he matriculated at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, but he dropped out after only one year to spend more time with my mother, his high school sweetheart, and she dropped out of Smith College to spend more time with him. They married in 1928 and in 1929 my oldest sister was born. My brother was born in 1937 and my twin sister and I came along eighteen months later.

In the meantime, my grandfather, upon their marriage, gave my dad an allowance of one-hundred dollars a week. a princely sum in those days. My grandfather also gifted my dad a membership in the Longmeadow Country Club. Dad had never really worked a day in his life. All through the depths of the Great Depression he played golf, almost daily.

The money begins to slip away, and the war begins

My grandfather began to suffer from a pinched nerve in his neck in the late 1930's, for which he underwent surgery, which was not only unsuccessful, but left him partially paralyzed. He would spend the last nine years of his life in bed, needing round-the-clock care, which steadily drained the family fortune. Grandfather Kinsman had lost some of his money in the crash of '29 as well, so the family was no longer on easy street.

My father, at age thirty-seven, was conscripted by the government to work in the defense industry at the beginning of World War II, and he went to work for the first time in his life at a machine and gear plant, turning out parts for tanks. In thinking back I'm not sure this wasn't the happiest period of my dad's life. He got off his shift every day at three in the afternoon, and my mother would always drive us to the plant to pick him up. The workers would depart the plant in droves, all carrying their little black lunch boxes. I could see my dad laughing and joking with his fellow workers as he approached our car.

After the war

When the war was over, the family fortune completely gone, my father, now needing to work to support his family, found a job with a friend's life insurance agency. He was to be a life insurance salesman. Things went well for a little while, as he had plenty of his old country club friends to which he could peddle his policies, but he ran out of friends after a time and found that he had no talent for making cold calls and selling to a wider public. He took to cashing his customer's premium payment checks, thinking that he could sell additional policies and cover what he was taking. When the owner of the agency discovered my father's embezzlement he summarily fired him and moved to have him prosecuted.

Mom saves the day

I remember it as if it were yesterday (I had just turned seven) - my mother dressing up my brother, my sister and I in our Sunday best and driving us to my father's boss' house. She trundled us up to his door and rang the bell. He came to the door and she pleaded with him, tears streaming down her face, not to prosecute my father. "What will become of these beautiful children?" she implored and begged him. He liked my mother, thank heaven, and he said "Eleanor, for you, I will not press charges against him. But I don't want to ever see that son of a bitch again, or I might just kill him." Mom had saved the day.

A friend gets my dad another job

My father's best friend Len then secured him a job as an insurance adjuster. The job came with a company car, which was a good thing because our 1936 Reo was on its last legs. But here again, he had a hard time performing to expectations. He had lots of paperwork to perform in this job, and in the evenings he would pull up his chair to a card table, his work in front of him and a deck of cards to the side. He would run numbers on his calculator for a time, then push the papers aside, pick up the deck of cards, and begin playing solitaire. The head of the adjustment bureau wanted to fire my dad on several occasions, because he was always behind in his work, but his friend Len, also a friend of dad's employer, would go over to his house and talk him out of it.

His drinking

Every Saturday and Sunday my dad would make himself a big pitcher of martinis - sometimes it was manhattans - and settle in to listen to the Boston Red Sox game. On Sundays the Red Sox usually played doubleheaders, and on those occasions my father would go through two full pitchers during the course of the afternoon. I remember my mother tearfully saying to him "the kids are walking around with holes in their shoes, and you bring those damn bottles of bourbon home every week."

Thank the lord for Auntie Helen

My father's Aunt Helen, his father's sister, was the one member of the family whose fortune remained intact. As she was a spinster, my grandfather took it upon himself to take care of her financially, and over the years she had invested her money wisely and well. When she died in the mid 1960's my father was left with a good chunk of her money. He retired from the General Adjustment bureau, much to the delight of his boss, and moved to Kennebunkport, Maine, where he and my mother bought a small motel. My mother was the driving force behind the success of the motel. She greeted and registered the guests and saw to their needs. He mowed the lawn.

He never knew how to let me get close to him.

When I was about five - maybe six - I jumped up in my father's lap and kissed him, whereupon he pushed me away and told me I was too old for that. "Men shake hands," he said. That was the last time I showed my dad any overt affection.

Much later, after I became an adult and moved to California from New England, I hardly ever saw my parents, but I would call them on occasion. I would have lengthy conversations with my mom about any number of subjects, and then she would put my dad on the phone.

It was always the same. "Hi Kiddo," he would greet me. There would be a strained second or two of silence and then I would say "the Red Sox aren't doing so great this year, are they?" "No," he'd reply. They need better pitching."
"Well, nice talking to you, dad. Take care."
"You take care too, Kiddo."

My dad died in 1986 at the age of eighty-two. My mother followed him six days later.

I've done a lot of work over the years healing the wounds of my relationship - or should I say lack thereof - with my father, and I have long since forgiven him his failings. He did the best he could with what he had.

Tags

Family, Family Dynamics, Family Relations, Father, Fatherhood, Fathers And Sons, Parents, Sons And Fathers, Steve Kinsman

Meet the author

author avatar Steve Kinsman
I live in California with my wife Carol, where I have been practicing professional astrology for 35 years. I write articles on astrology, but I enjoy writing on a variety of other subjects as well..

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Comments

author avatar Jonathan
4th May 2011 (#)

Thank you for sharing this Steve. I think its important to forgive our fathers failings and to do everything we can to avoid repeating their mistakes, and to break any negative circles that goes from generation to generation. No parents are perfect, but most do the best they can with what they have, as you say in your last sentence.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
4th May 2011 (#)

Jonathan - You are so very right. Not to forgive is very unhealthy. And someone must break patterns that run forever in them, lest "the sins of the fathers be passed from generation to generation."

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author avatar Songbird B
4th May 2011 (#)

This is deeply moving, Steve. It isn't always easy to forgive, and it says a lot about you as a man, that you have...I am only sorry that your dad didn't realise the love and affection that his kids could give him...That is the most tragic loss of all...This article touched me...Thank you for sharing it ...

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
4th May 2011 (#)

Thank you, Songbird B. All children love their parents unconditionally, which is why it hurts so much when parents don't know how to express their own love for their children. My dad grew up in an upper class, sort of Victorian environment, where expressing emotions was frowned upon. Strange custom, that.

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author avatar Denise O
4th May 2011 (#)

Steve, thank you for opening up your heart to us. As a daughter of a man, that I will never be daddy's little girl to, I can also relate. My wounds are still raw, as he is still alive and still hurting me but, I am trying hard to move on. I came to the conclusion over this last year that, he will never love me, he will always be the way he is and there is not a thing I can do about it. I must move on with my life without him. I am so happy you have forgiven your father and just maybe, one day I can honestly say I did the same. You mother sounds like good people to me. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
4th May 2011 (#)

Denise O, thank you for opening up your heart to us. I must say my daughters have had their issues with me, as well they should have. I am fortunate they have forgiven me my failings toward them.

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author avatar AnnH
4th May 2011 (#)

Nice post Steve, thanks for sharing your story.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
4th May 2011 (#)

Thank you so much, Gemstar99.

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author avatar PHYLLIS LOGIE
4th May 2011 (#)

The fact that you are able to be so open about what must be a very painful situation is in itself a sign that your wounds to some extent has been healed. It sounds like your father had a lot of problems of his own and found life quite difficult to cope with. However, I think you were quite lucky with your mother, God bless all mothers, so many times they are their children's saving grace.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
4th May 2011 (#)

Phyllis, Amen to what you say about mothers. Yes, my dad did find coping with life difficult, which is why he drank.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
16th Nov 2011 (#)

My dear Steve,
Life has its own rules - often, no rules at all.It's like a roller coaster ride and we don't know what is in store for us. This father son bonding has many permutations and combinations, and I am sad to read you got the worst part of it. It must have taken a lot of courage for you to share this story with us. You have gone a couple of notches higher in my estimate now.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
16th Nov 2011 (#)

My dear Steve,
Life has its own rules - often, no rules at all.It's like a roller coaster ride and we don't know what is in store for us. This father son bonding has many permutations and combinations, and I am sad to read you got the worst part of it. It must have taken a lot of courage for you to share this story with us. You have gone a couple of notches higher in my estimate now.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
16th Nov 2011 (#)

That's a nice compliment GV, and I am humbled by it. Thank you.

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author avatar Masha
13th Mar 2012 (#)

Steve, am not sure if I am in the middle of the wound, digging it or just trying to heal it...anyway, I've thought that I had forgiven my father long time ago. I really did. The other problem was that I couldn't feel the wound. However, Chiron issues was helpful in my case. I wonder if you have any hard aspect between Sun and Saturn in your chart, like square or opposition?

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