By: Usagi Yojimbo
Editor’s note: Article is significantly longer then normal
A few days after completing this writing, it will be 11 years since my Father had passed. It was He that gave me the ability to determine who I am on my own, yet guided me when I needed it and made me what I am today.
I remember years ago, believe it or not as young as one or two years old. It was still dark, I was still sleeping in the crib in my adoptive parents’ room. I remember a dim closet light bulb, and watch a strange yet familiar man put on a black uniform, a gun belt, and get ready for work. I remember having soiled diapers one morning. He turns to me and my crib, and sees that I am awake and smelly. I see Him smile at me as He sees me awake, and I feel His steady arms pick me up and take me into the bathroom to change my diapers. I still remember the orange walls of the bathroom at that time as He changed my diapers and put me back into my crib and let me drift off to sleep.
That, dear readers, is my earliest memory of the Man that I write this article about.
How deep is this gratitude to my Father? My Father was the only person I would have forfeit my life, at his whim, without question, and without the forced power of government behind him. I’m adopted, so he wasn’t my biological father, yet the right was there. I suspected on some level He may have known it, and it was enough for Him.
He saved my life from an abusive mother, His ex-wife, my adoptive mother. As everyone knows, women get primary custody of the children in the divorce. For 18 months we were in hell on earth. My mother, the nurturing female, as people believe, forced myself and two other siblings to sleep in our own filth, starved us, and let her boyfriends rape my older sister, who was approximately 15 to 16 years old at the time. When I say rape, I don’t mean the diluted regret-sleeping-with-him-type regret “rape” of today. I mean underage, forced, violent rape. There were times that come back to me in nightmares, of that older sister screaming for help that wouldn’t come.
I have no doubt that my adoptive mother or her boyfriends would have killed us younger children had my Father not fought like hell to get custody of us. To this day, that house still has blackened spots on the hardwood under flooring in the living room where we would sleep in soiled sleeping bags night after night (which is now under wall-to-wall carpeting, and owned by my younger sister.) That older sister is still damaged from it, and has stepped away from the family. She really never came back to the family house.
He was a police officer of almost 40 years before he retired. Whether or not He used His authority to seize custody of us back is subject to conjecture. I’m alive, so I will not question this topic, nor will I argue with the success that He had having three children grow up relatively normal despite the time in hell.
He built the town from being the first employee of the city, doing everything from snow removal and town Marshall, to being the first police chief of a force of thirty. He was still doing active NIGHT patrol in His fucking 60’s, gun belt and black uniform still. He viewed catastrophes when they happened. He was on the scene when flooding rendered the town a disaster area, and He helped manage insanity that followed. He was the best shot in the state up to His retirement, scoring 99% on pistol certification, with the next person behind Him scoring 92%. I heard of raids on gangs houses He was on from cops I would encounter from other cities; I never heard how much He was involved, and I suspect I never will. He taught me how to shoot a pistol, and I am still a better shot with a pistol than a long arm.
It saddens me how corrupt police have become, as He came from another time where they were supposed to protect people, not just the law. I have seen that humanity in action from Him.
He eventually remarried to a divorced woman with three daughters in their high school years. They did not carry the family name, but I did. I knew that the family name carried weight, and would do all that I can to show that it was an honest name. It is said that children of cops are dichotomous: either terminally corrupt or blatantly honest. I had no problem being on the honest side of the dichotomy of what police children tend to be.
He was the even keel of the family that I believe all fathers should be, and I hope I am if I can find someone to have a family with. Dad taught me fairness; cutting through the bullshit whining and nagging and blackmail my younger sister and the stepsisters put against me and gave them a dose of “shut the fuck up, and leave him the hell alone.” I knew better than to incur his wrath (I did on a very rare occasion, which kept them very, *very* rare occasions,) because he was strict in his fairness. No hypocrisy in his rules, no double standards, and no going back on his word.
I gained the low bullshit tolerance and calling people out on it from him. I will be the first to admit, it has gotten me into some trouble here and there in this politically correct world; but truth and what is before your senses is rarely politically correct.
He taught me to carry through with things. I don’t start fights, and it is hard to get me to take on a task, because I have concerns of not finishing it. But when I’m in, I’m in for the duration.
He taught me that my word may be the only thing I have that gives me value. Integrity was always part of what he expected of me. And being a man of my word has been the “foot in the door” that allows me to build and earn trust and respect in places I go.
His house, His rules: If you were underage, you were to follow His rules until you either graduated high school, or turned eighteen. I have a total of 5 sisters, 2 of which (the youngest and one of the older step-sisters,) tried to run away from home while they were of the age of minority in the state. They wanted to be free of the fact He expected them to do things around the house, and have the final say in who they dated, and basically wanted to flip Him off. He would have none of that. He hunted them down, and got them back to the house, under strict curfew. They finally made themselves somewhat marriageable, and now have families.
The sisters were troublemakers. The younger one tried to burn down the garage, playing with a matchbook collection He kept under lock and key there. The stepsisters were not used to the evenness of discipline, having a mangina for a father. So they were more than shocked that they got grounded for being two hours late coming home without calling.
I, on the other hand, was low maintenance. I studied, I read, went to school, humped my ass to do well, and stayed away from the drama-llamas that my sisters seem to love bringing home. I respected His decisions and rules, and I had no problem doing things around the house, unlike my sisters. For that, He gave me leeway in some of the things He denied my sisters and my two brothers, like staying out late, because He knew I would not abuse that trust.
Hell, He let me play hooky with him from school when I was in the second grade. I had a teacher that decided to make my life a living hell and I needed a break (she left the school at the end of that academic year.) It was kind of fun being on patrol with Him, checking in with His cops on duty, peeking up from the car door when he was talking to people. He covered for me when I needed help with college until I could secure financial aid on my own, trusted me that I knew what I was doing when I went into the service, which did get me towards my final goal.
It is with a hard lump in my throat that I remember how proud He was to have both a commissioned officer (being enlisted before,) in the family (he was drafted and enlisted in the 50’s,) and a professional degree earner in me. Medical problems and the powers beyond my control kept me from finishing that degree when He was still alive, and forced me out of the service after He passed. I so wanted to finish it, as it was the one thing that, per my stepmother and per my last words with Him, kept him going, and happy, and proud.
I saw Him in hospice on emergency leave, on His deathbed, and I couldn’t stop apologizing for failing to finish it so he could make my graduation. It was hard to see Him, a Man that was strong, honorable, and fair, weakened by cancer, the treatments, and the pain medication. The last time I saw Him, the family left us alone in the hospice room. I kept telling Him how He could command my life with a word, and how grateful I was to Him for my life, and letting me lead it the way I want to. I could never repay Him.
“These things happen,” He said with a smile. “It’s not a question of whether or not to go on. Life goes on, and so should you.”
I didn’t want to stop hugging him, like I could transfer life force to him to keep him going for a bit longer. Against all logic and reason, I was thinking, “Please Dad, take a few years of mine. Please make it until I succeed.” He ended up kicking me out of the room to make the plane back to my duty station with a smile, a goodbye, and last words of love. He knew that seeing Him weakened was killing me, and that watching Him die would have destroyed me. I cried myself to sleep on the plane. I still tear up remembering it. It’s taken me almost two hours to write this one paragraph because of the tears.
He died a few days later, less than the seven days I gave Him in my mind. I was still on emergency leave at the time, sleeping in, when I heard the phone ring. I let the machine answer it, because I knew what it was about. The message was from my stepmother: “Usagi, this is Mom. Um…Daddy died this morning at 5:30. He just went to sleep…and gave us a little smile…and off he went…”
Seeing that would probably would have destroyed me, if not psychologically, it would physically soon after I witnessed it. I extended the emergency leave for a week (section commander used command privilege to extend it without cost,) and just tried to get out the zombie-like state I was in. I left the service two months later.
I honor Him on the day of his passing every year. I wake before the time of death, listen to that message, which I pulled off as a mp3, and have a drink in His honor.
I have two things of His: His badge and His nameplate. I took them off one of His uniforms, perhaps the same uniform He was wearing the day He changed my diapers, all those years ago. The lettering paint is worn, they both look like they has been in some rough places, so I know he wore them sometime. I put a morning band of black across the badge and have never taken it off. When I finally finished the professional degree, the stepmother, the younger sister, and the eldest stepsister were in attendance at commencement. I wore it with His nameplate under my gown at commencement (I couldn’t find a hangtag, or it would have been OUTSIDE my gown.) When I took it off, the younger sister saw it and asked, “Why do you have His badge here?”
My reply: “Because He couldn’t be.”
With his passing, all sense of fairness and steadiness I would feel coming home with Him alive is gone. There is much chaos and nitpicking now. Think of the mother from the show “Malcolm in the Middle.” Clone her 5 times, and age one of those clones to the 70’s. That pretty much describes my stepmother and the sister/stepsisters.
One of the reasons I’m in this fight is for Him and what He gave me as Father. I see many respectable, fair fathers and good men being ripped away from their children with this…this…dogma that is feminism and the modern age. One of the reasons I don’t have a family is I don’t want to break my children’s hearts or leave them at the whims of scum if she decides she is bored, leaves, and dates “bad boys.” Seeing the one video of the son in the father’s car saying to his mom “I want to stay with Dad forever,” while she was being psychotic touched back to Dad. He was ripped us like many men here have been ripped away from their children.
My younger siblings and I were lucky. He came back for us, fought to get us back, and kept us.
“Mother is the name of God on the lips of children.” At least that’s what is quoted in the movie The Crow.
For me, “Father is the name of God on my lips.”
You don’t believe me? Look at this article. Look at the pronouns that are capitalized. When I originally wrote this as a post on the forums, the pronouns that were capitalized were different. For all the gifts He gave me, for all the ability He let me develop, and for all the freedom He allowed to let me obtain my goal, I can never, EVER, repay. With what I have been able to accomplish with the life He gave to me, I will never debate His wisdom.
There is only one entity mentioned in most Western religious texts that gave so much, could directly forgive us, not sacrifice Himself for forgiveness. All that He asked in return that He is recognized in our daily thoughts. That entity is God. I thank Him every year around this time, if not every day.
Thank you, Father, for my life. I miss you.
About the author:
Usagi is on the musha shugyo (the warrior’s pilgrimage,) a solitary journey where he perfects the skills he needs to perform the job he loves. In his travels, he observes the world and tries to see the truth of the matter, calling out injustice when he sees it.