The green spiraled journal draws me in.
It belonged to my dad.
The very first thing I bought when I became an adult was a storage building. It sits on my mom’s property (once upon a time it was my grandmother’s property) and my dad put a few boxes of belongings in there nearly twenty years ago. In one of the boxes was this journal.
On the cover he has printed:
The Journals of Robert Lee—-soldier, statesman, author.
It is filled with his thoughts, his hopes, his disappointments, his memories.
Stuffed between the written pages he has a few cards from loved ones, pictures of my sister and I, and bills from the IRS.
I love this journal, although it is mostly sad. He wrote when he was going through a very difficult time, of which I was completely unaware, but heck I was a kid then, barely out of high school, and completely wrapped up in my own life.
I discover that I didn’t really know my dad. But who really did?
He hurt more than I know, and I don’t mean physically.
Today is the 15th of April, 1996. Tax Time for most folks, but to me it is different. Today I join the ranks of the homeless. I haven’t learned a lot in my 53 short years aboard this planet, but I’ve learned this, we are just a short journey from this predicament that I find myself in right now. It’s a feeling that I don’t wish on friend or foe, but I’ll come out of the water bushed and gasping of air, out of breath and hoping for a low hanging limb from which this wrecked body needs just a minute to catch it’s breath. Then I’ll fight onward, searching for new friends, looking in familiar haunts for a few old compatriots, who’ll say—welcome ol’ shoe, come sit awhile and rest.
April 18, 1996—
It’s not good being homeless, but I have been getting reacquainted with my mother. Before I was always in a hurry when I went to see her, but now we are taking the time to talk to each other. Today we spoke of my grandparents, the last who died in 1975. I wish that I could have gotten to know them.
As I reread this journal, no as I pore over his words, I get the “missing my dad blues”. The “If only’s” The “I wish”. It doesn’t help that its a rainy day in July either. Much like my dad wrote on the page he titled, “July or is it June 27?”
I moved into my new digs yesterday. Went to the store and bought boloney and beer. It’s a cloudy, dismal day, in fact I’ll call this place “The Dismal Swamp” It’s a dump, held together with spit n’ glue, but at least the neighbor’s are nice—which means that they don’t bother me or even come out of their own hovels. I’m into Charles Bukowski, poet, short stories, novels, drinker extraiordinairre. Life is good as we let it be.
He was phenomenal with the written word.
Dawn comes on a silvery black flash that gently turns to a pale blue as the sun makes it’s ascent into the morning sky. Departure time is steadily approaching and I feel a twinge of excitement as the clock ticks onward toward the time of making my exit. My brother warned me about this happening, he said, “don’t let one year turn into ten” when I first moved here for just a year. Well, June marks the 10 year span that I’ve spent here in Green Country. I can see the changes here in Okla. that have occurred since coming here. Mainly, traffic flow, the driving here is atrocious. But that does not take from the few close friends that I have made here. I’ll always appreciate them.
He was funny.
“Guess I’ll go by leon’s house and see if he wants to go fishing with me n’ doc tomorrow—-it is the fourth of July and we do live in the bosom of democracy, so why not fish. Uh Oh. Outta beer. So I’ll take to task the advice of my ol’ mentor and friend, Horace Greely—-Go West—-about 2 miles—–the have Busch on sale.”
Keeping a journal and trying to keep sounding interesting is so boring.
Yes, dad I agree with that one whole heartedly! He continues…..
My life is boring, but the mundane way of life is peaceful. Living quiet has it’s own reward.
He got lonesome and had regrets.
Nov. 24, 1996
I dreamed of Jo and Angel night before last. They were small and cuddly and we laughed and played. I awoke all discombobulated and out of sync. It’s good to dream old dreams. I miss the girls so much. I hope Angel is doing all right out there in the west. She is so private it’s hard to find out anything from her. Joley has John so I don’t worry about her so much. Joley is my little mother. I know that she will see to it that I am taken care of. I hope that I never need it tho. I’m sorry now that I didn’t know how to love the girls’ mother. Hindsight has perfect vision. But I just didn’t know, and for that I am sorry.
Jan. 13, 1997
I’m lonesome and being broke don’t help. I’d visit an axe murderer if he’d stop by my digs.
Although these notes are sad and some remorseful, I receive peace when I read them. I know how much my dad loved me. There was never a time I doubted that. He wrote of it many times. His heart was full of love.
I am the proud father of 4 children. Two boys and two girls. How this mixed blessing came about, I’m not exactly sure. It just came at me out of the blue, kinda like a fighter with a good left hook.
I also receive comfort knowing I’ll see him again.
Feb 7th or 8th
I know God is my friend and I hope he lets me hang around for a few years.
Thanks God for the years.
There’s more. There’s lots more. But I’ll leave you with that for now. I don’t think my old pop would mind me sharing this. It helps me, and I know there are family and friends who miss him terribly. I hope it helps them too. Sometimes we just want to hear from our loved ones one more time and this is the way that I do that. When I read these words, I hear his voice. I see the twinkle in his eye. I see him throw his head back when he thought something was funny, yet keeping his laugh inside and quiet.
I see him in my baby girl too, little bits of him. There are times I wish he could see her, but then I remember…..I’m pretty sure they’ve already met.
Thank you. I’m sitting her crying my eyes out, it’s been a while since I cried for him. I was just looking at pictures of him yesterday. They span about 25 years and he changed a lot in those years. Two things stayed the same in all of them…that mischievous look and his hands. I miss them both, I miss him….so very much.
His hands never did get old did they?
TEARS ARE ROLLING AS I READ THIS ANGEL, HE WAS SUCH A GOOD PERSON, AND HE LOVED YOU GIRLS SO MUCH,oops, didnt realize caps was on, we love and miss him so much, it is a rainy day here too, i just got back from the country where me and Art shared so much together, and i cried as i rode down the dirt rd, life is as it is, God ,in his glory will take us all away and we will be together again someday!
Sorry you had such a sad day missing loved ones.
Angel this is your ole Auntie Velta, Bob is missed by all of us and I feel a void in my heart as I think of him. growing up together we spent a lot of time together and were very close, we were company to one another as Mom did her daily chores. And as I look back at those years I know Bob went through some tough times, trying to protect everyone and be macho when in fact he was a scared little boy. At the time I didn’t think about it much, but as I reflect on those years out on the Briggs flat, I can now realize that Bob hurt alot then too. And knew many sorrows as a result of the circumstances , but he always did put on a brave front. and was brave to go into the Marine Corp. as we all know the Marines are not sissies thats for sure. Yes we will see him again. And he is no longer homeless.
No, he’s no longer homeless. He’s got him a fine place I bet.
Angel .. this is the most beautiful, thoughtprovoking post i have EVER read,, I really hesitated about responding since I felt like I might be intruding in your “family’s” replies. That was how personal it came across! I have never kept it a secret that I loved reading your Saturday’s with Bob posts. I was enthralled with them from the very first one and waited with anticipation for the next “installment”. I must admit I suffered some “withdrawal” when they came to an end. I really can’t explain the intrigue I felt with his writings. But THIS, this is like looking into someone’s inner soul! Like I could actually “feel” his pain, fear and despair over losing his home and being alone. Boring? never!! I think your father was an ‘author extraordinnaire’ and I would love to be able to read more of his passages if you every feel you can share them again. We all take for granted that our parents love us but to actually SEE those words in his handwriting, amidst his other deepest thoughts, must be one of your greatest joys. Thank you for opening these heartfelt pages to “outsiders” like myself. It is like receiving a very special gift when you least expect it! God’s blessings on your family …Until next time . Donna H.
I felt withdrawals when they came to an end too. I’m glad they touched you so. He had no idea how much he was loved and would be floored to know people responded to his words like you, for instance. thanks.