I am very thankful for the time that I have with my father. I know he could have been lost to me, in a war, along with his hearing. However, outside of his military experience, I never considered him to be much beyond an ordinary, hard-working guy.
I was very wrong.
My father accompanied me back to Brooklyn this evening after a brief stay in my home state for the Christmas holiday. As we were boarding the train to head to Rockefeller Center to see the tree, I asked him, when he retires in April, how many years of service will he have served?
I had previously believed that my dad spent his entire adult life in two of the four major branches of the US military, on and off full time active duty.
When he retires in April, he will have served a total of just shy of twenty five years, after taking a twelve year hiatus between his Army and Air Force service.
I was surprised. I knew nothing of this mysterious twelve year period. My dad, had, like, a civilian, plain-clothed life?
He did. For example, after a short fling while working in Kansas, there's a small chance that I could have a brother or sister who would be about 35 now.
Yep. I hope she exists and I hope she's a girl. I always wanted a sister.
Also, a few years later, after returning home only to pile on some debt and partying (my dad?), he moved to Egypt for two years. Up and moved to Egypt. I recall the pictures of pyramids framed on the walls of my early childhood home. I also remember asking to take in some of the photos for show and tell. My dad had been to Egypt and saw the pyramids. But I understood these photos to have come from his travels with the service.
He was also a bit of a cad. In the span of retelling these missing twelve years to me tonight, he mentioned at least four fairly serious girlfriends. Including one from Australia. I could have been Australian! Throw another steak on the barbie!
At one point, three large diamonds also entered the story. I think I may have persuaded him to give me one to pay for my wedding.
It was both refreshing and strange to hear that my dad is super awesome and had a whole exciting life before I was born. He had visited six continents and lived, at least for a few months, on four. He was in love with an Australian girl; partly so, he admitted, because he loved her accent. By the time he was my age, 26, he'd really lived. Even the people I've known my whole life surprise me.