June 16, 2013

A day or two after my father died, I had to look in his wallet for cards and other information. It was an old brown leather wallet, but even older was something he’d obviously been transferring from one wallet to the next for most of his life.

I never thought of my father as a family man. He was rarely affectionate, and he liked to be at work or with his friends at a bar or playing softball or almost any place other than home. So I was surprised to find this:

Roger's wallet_2

Some of these photographs were more than sixty years old when he died, and as far as I could tell he’d never taken them out of this little plastic folder except maybe to show some stranger the people who were inside.

Turned out it was us.

Bruce, Roger at 15, Bruce a little older, Alice

Top: Bruce, Roger at 15; Bottom: Bruce, Alice

Roger (home from army on furlough), Alice (with Andrea on the way), Michael, Bruce

Roger (home from army on furlough), Alice (with Andrea on the way), Michael(L), Bruce (R)

Alice must have sent this next one to him when he was back in Germany being a soldier once again.

Baby "Tinka" (Norwegiany name), aka Andrea

Baby “Tinka” (Norwegiany name), aka Andrea

This is my brother Michael:



There was no picture of my sister, Marla, and I puzzled over this for a while, but then I realized she was born much later, and he’d put this together when he was going to war and when he was in the war. These were the people he’d hoped he would come home to in good shape, or at least as whole and well as a person can be after such an event in his life. He must have been so frightened of losing everything.

He didn’t ever quite make it to good shape when that war ended. He was always troubled, never healed, but nevertheless he was an honest person and proved himself to be a good friend to many, many people, and he became passionately anti-war.

Here we are together in the safety of peacetime:

Daddy and I.

Daddy and I.

If I could call him up right now I’d say, Unpack that wallet, Daddy, and come on all the way home.

But since I can’t, then love to him and to all the fathers who wanted to be better at fathering than they managed, as well as to those who succeeded and are succeeding in this whole new era of fatherhood.

16 Responses to “Daddy”

  1. Anne Says:

    Poignant piece!!


  2. Bonnie Belatti Says:

    “Daddy and I” Wonderful



  3. Katharine Says:

    how beautiful. thank you.


  4. Joseph P. Goodwin Says:

    Thanks, Andrea. I came along a few years after my dad returned home from Guam.


  5. Heide Says:

    What a lovely tribute Andrea. I could take pieces from your story and wrap it in to my life with my dad. You eloquently captured so much in few words. So moving… Thank you. Xoxo


  6. That’s a lovely Father’s Day post, Andrea. The photos are haunting, as are your words.


  7. Carol Bergh Says:

    Reflecting is good for the soul I believe. So good you’ve shared this Andrea! I’ve thought more and more about soldiers from past wars such as the age of our fathers/grandfathers and the PTSD many of them likely experienced affecting their lives after, and how many of us ever gave that any thought..??


  8. I am guessing there were mixed emotions over the years but you have come to terms with what he cd and cd not give…i share a similar journey, hope to get further further along too


  9. Beth Says:

    Again you found the sweetness. Yes, my father had a cube on his desk with photos of my mom when she was young, and my brother and me as pre-schoolers. I think there was a snapshot of my mother’s parents, and that made me suspect my mother had assembled this cube for him. Whose wish was it? I never knew.


  10. What a generous and loving tribute, Andrea, along with a treasure trove of family photos. A true gift to us this Father’s Day.


  11. Katie Gates Says:

    This is a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing your father’s wallet with us.


  12. redmitten Says:

    oh this hurts in the way beauty hurts. i just returned from visiting my parents. my daughter and i found my father’s photo album from 1949, germany. to see him then, you could see how he thought life would be. and not that life turned out good or bad or whatever…it is just the contrast between thinking forward and looking back. we get squeezed.


  13. Well said, redmitten


  14. Cheryl Says:

    Tinka. If I knew that I forgot. But I love it. Isn’t it true that we just never know for sure how other people feel and how they hold us in their hearts. Best to assume they do, I think, even when it is expressed very differently than we might like. This post gave me a great fondness for and understanding of your father.


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