Before I was born my father had wanted to name me Patrick, assuming I would be boy. Since my brother and sister were already named for his father and closest sister, he wanted to give his next child a name he always liked.
After I was born there was a uproar about my name though. My father decided Patricia would be just as good a name as Patrick. Besides he had always liked the nick name Patsy. But my grandmother had wanted to name me Elizabeth Grace after her little girl who died in infancy.
We all know who won the argument and I was called Patricia. The story goes that my grandmother had come up to help my mother before and after I was born. After it was decided on what my name would be she got so mad at my mother and not only refusing to talk to her, she would not even hold me. Actually I have a picture somewhere of her holding me with a scowl on her face.
My mother told me that she was alright with the name Elizabeth, it was the middle name that had her in a tizzy. Grace…such a pretty name right?
My mother just in this country for a little over 1 year, was still learning the English language, thought my grandmother wanted to name me Elizabeth “Crazy”. She thought Grace was the word for crazy! Of coarse my father loved to tell the story and would add, “little did we know the name would have fit Patty perfectly”! Once my mother understood she told me she always regretted the misunderstanding of not realizing why the name meant so much to my grandmother.
My poor mother, although she was blamed for me not being Elizabeth Grace, it was in fact my dad who put his foot down and wanted his Patricia. I quickly became Patty, although I was never told why I was never called Patsy. On occasion he would call me Patsy, and I might add he was the only one who was allowed to do so. He did not call me that often, but when he did it was always with a joke, a smile and a twinkle in his eyes.
He died suddenly when I was 14, four days after his birthday. I never had the chance to speak with him adult to adult, or ask him about his life as a young boy leaving home to help support his mother and sisters. When I started to learn about World War II in school he would fill in the gaps from the history books, teaching me “what the history books would not”. Those were some of the best talks I had with him.
Dad saw things during his tour in Europe in 1944-1945 that we will never be able to comprehend. Those things had haunted him all of his life. He never again found the peace in his life that was lost on the battlefields of Belgium and the Rhineland.
Growing up we had good times and bad times. Through it all we knew we were loved. I had the privilege of having him for my father, although I only knew him for such a short time.
He was far from perfect; he was a man who lived through many difficulties, being a young boy during the Depression, he had left home to support his family. He also witnessed the horrors of the brutality of what one man was capable of doing. Some of the problems and trials were of his own choosing, yet he was a gentle man, a caring man, and a man of courage. Dad was just a troubled soul – trying to find his place in this world.
Dad held many jobs one of his first jobs as a young boy was with the CCC. After that he also worked a short time with the Ringling Brothers and Bailey Circus, if memory serves me right he told me his job was to help set up the tents. He was a diesel mechanic and a draftsman. But his most memorable career would be his service to his country for 25 years, with the United States Army.
And that is how I like to think of him. As a soldier and a father who loved and cared for his family the best way he knew how.
Happy Father’s Day Dad ~ “Sarge”!