As a military family, our family was often fractured because of frequent deployments. Called TDY (Temporary Duty) in Air Force parlance, my father was gone for months on end and once, he was gone for a year (during the Vietnam War). And, sometimes, “re-entry” into the family fold after a deployment was a balancing act – a balancing act for us children, of having a father figure again and relearning all that meant and for my mother, a husband who wanted (of course) to take part in and manage our family reinserting himself into his place as “The Family Man” or the man of the family.
So while “re-entry” was at times a delicate dance, these times were further strengthened by my parents love of camping and boating, creating pockets of special bonding times for just our little nuclear family unit. Often, during our formative years, we would pack up our car full of camping gear, hitch our boat to the back of the car, drive to a nearby lake, load everything into the boat, and search around the lake (my father or mother driving the boat) until we found a small private island. We’d pitch camp and stay a week or more – just us.
Just us. Just the six of us.
Camping, boating, water skiing, swimming, cooking and building campfires. Just us.
This “alone time” as a family created an unbreakable bond, making us a team of 6; a team that knew how to work together, play together, and get things done – together. Even though my father was often gone during our childhood, these special times were so special they negated the deployments, brought us back together like nothing had ever changed. This bonding time made us children feel secure, loved, special, and taught us many things – especially about love and family.
My father died last Saturday, January 19, 2013. This post and others (High Flight, Dance Me to the End of Love, Remembering Grandpa, Perspective: December 8, 1941) plus future ones this week, are dedicated to him. Here are pages from a scrapbook from one of those happy times…