Story Time: Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone
As you may have read I’m a 90s kid, I recommend you check out Story Time: 90s Kid Alert. I was born in 1985 in Texas. By age 3 my family moved (for the first time I know in my lifetime) from the Oak Cliff neighborhood in Dallas to my mother’s home state, Alabama. Growing up with my parents was dramatic, sometimes dark, but mostly a happy play performed with set decoration of different scenery, props, and locations. It interrupted my life, broke any friendships I had formed, but over time I enjoyed the moving.
I enjoyed seeing the new places, meeting new people, and exploring my new surroundings. Whether those were a new place to live (apartment, trailer, or house usually), a new town/city (several southern cities and a few northern ones), or seeing what differences were. I dealt with being the perpetual new kid, getting made fun of for my southern drawl when I moved up north for a few years, or just not being accepted for the thousands of ways kids can push out a classmate.
It was when I was in the 7th grade that my father’s rolling stone behavior, his ‘can’t get stills’, began to change. Papa was a rollin’ stone, but he felt that it was time to grow some moss in the form of a house for his family to live. Somewhere we could truly call home and somewhere I could grow up and finish school. It wouldn’t be for a couple more years that he could achieve this, but he talked about it often at this point in time until we achieved it.
I explain to people my dad just couldn’t help having that ‘moving itch’. He was an Army brat himself, with all his siblings, and being a Marine during Vietnam, he just kept having the ‘can’t get still’ as my mother calls it. I have the itch, but it’s in the form of enjoying traveling whenever I can and seeing something new, but I like a stable home base. It’s not a deadly itch, it is handed down parent to child though as I caught it from my dad. Thankfully, I have the kind of job that enables me to travel and see new things.
By the time my dad wanted to become stable we had already moved 9 different times total, with me attending 11 different schools (some repeated mind you). My mother and I were both ready for something stable. I assumed, originally, that my dad just wanted to ‘become stable’. It wasn’t until I was an adult that this wish of his to settle began before we had even moved back to Alabama. I did not understand my dad had got sick, when I was still in 6th grade.
My parents had a gift for hiding things from me most of the time. I always felt this off feeling, something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. I am not sure how much my sibling new of my father’s health early on, but for me I knew nothing. He didn’t act as if he was sick. He was still being the dad I had always known. Mom protected me from much. Much was revealed to me when I was in my 20s and I shared with her the things that I knew about that she thought she had protected me from as well.
For as long as I had known Dad wanted to move around, forever the stone that never wanted to stop rolling and grow moss. My mother explained it once to me as, “I’d come home from work to him packing. He just had to go again, and we had to go with him.”
It took several heart attacks and other health issues to finally slow him down and it was heartbreaking to see this strong tough Marine being forced to slow. See him stop to catch his breath and eventually to keep trying to move around hauling an oxygen tank. Even that limited him.
After I moved out, I continued to move a few more times with my husband and my son, but now I’ve grown moss. I didn’t settle into a moss-covered home of my own until after my family lost my father in 2016. After seeing my father suffer for years, his death wasn’t a surprise. Life changed completely for my mother. Tears fell in this chapter of my life. All of us cried. Sometimes I still do.
It’s hard to lose a parent. It’s even harder on those of us that were close to him, my son being one of them. He was loved, he was tough; he was always stubborn (which is probably why he lived so much longer than doctors predicted), and he could be a mess like anyone else. He died a few days before his 63rd birthday, May 1st. So, this day can be rough on us, more so my mother who struggles with his passing on certain holidays and his birthday. I posted about dealing with my father’s passing in a separate post, you can read it here it’s called Story Time: The Death of a Parent.