Remember that old television show" Happy Days?” Well, when I was in the fifth grade I remember thinking, "My family is like ‘Happy Days’." We were happy and there was plenty of laughter and love to go around. Furthermore, like the television show, there were plenty of struggles and some kind of dilemma to solve before the night was over. No matter the problems the day may have brought, I always went to bed feeling happy, safe, and loved. Unlike the majority of kids in my fifth-grade class with broken homes, I just knew that my parents would be together forever. After reading Bradshaw on: The Family by John Bradshaw, I can see now that I may not have had a perfect family.
My mom and dad got married in 1962 when she was just 16 and my dad was 23. She was in high school and he was in the Marines when they met, fell in love, and got married. My dad got out of the Marines just before the Vietnam War and went to work for Union Pacific Railroad. They were married two years before they decided to start having kids. My brother Shawn was born first, then me, and last but definitely not least, my little brother Bobby. We were all two years apart. We grew up in a small house on five acres out in the country. There, my mom had plenty of room for her horses and my dad had plenty of room to groom my brothers into great athletes and dirt bike racers. We were like the average all-American family. We were taught to be proud of our country, to respect our elders and to do as we were told. We enjoyed sports, picnics, the drive-in movies, walks on the beach and trips to Disneyland. We would get together with family friends to barbeque every Fourth of July and set off fireworks. We went camping every summer. We flew kites in March when the wind would start to blow and waited up for Santa to come every Christmas Eve. We watched the ball drop with Dick Clark on television every New Years Eve. Sometimes on the weekends my parents spent time with friends playing cards and dancing while us kids played board games and watched movies in another room. As far as we knew or were concerned, we were the perfect family.
In his younger days, my dad looked just like Buddy Holly. He was passionate, loving and hot tempered but would do anything for anyone. He never met a stranger and went out of his way to make a friend wherever he went. He was that guy whom the neighbors would seek out if they needed help with something. My mom was beautiful. She looked like a cross between Sophia Lauren and Jackie Onassis. She had a great sense of humor, was easy going, mild-mannered and could be very stubborn at times. She was nice but unlike my dad, she enjoyed keeping to herself and didn't go out of her way to talk to people. My mom and dad did argue sometimes. Dad would usually yell, but they always worked it out. They both worked hard to provide the best of everything for my brothers and myself. My parents taught us that it was important to work hard and to put pride into whatever job you may be doing, whether it be cleaning toilets or flying a plane. "Do your job as if you were doing it for Jesus," is what my dad used to say.
My dad was the kind of dad who wanted his kids to be the best at everything, especially my oldest brother Shawn. He was always one of the coaches on Shawn's baseball and football teams. And of course, Shawn was a great athlete. He was a pitcher in baseball and a quarterback in football and a national champion in flat track motorcycle racing. Bobby was really the more talented of the two, but for some reason, my dad put way more time and energy into my oldest brother Shawn. Bobby was kind of over looked. He always used to tell Shawn that he had to set a "good example" for his brother and sister. And he did. Shawn got straight A's all through school, excelled in sports, and became quite successful in his business career as a project manager in an electrical engineering firm. I can see now that my brother Shawn was encouraged...