Friday, April 27, 2012

The Strong, Silent Type

Agnes Theresa Nichols and Everett Gordon Nichols

My father, Everett "Butch" Nichols is very much his father's son, despite being the doted on by his mother, as the youngest boy.  Not many men in our family actually express their feelings, or tell their history.  I probably know more about my dad than I ever could about his father, because I enjoy listening to the stories.  Even if I have heard them before...every time, more details come out.  Yes, we all change the story we tell, adding here and there, or taking away bits, but ultimately the story deep down is the same.
My father is the fifth child out of six, for Gordon Everett and Jessie (Ede) Nichols.  From all accounts, he was my grandmother's baby boy.  Spoiled to the core.  Sometimes this caused problems with his dad.  Such as when he was a teen.  Numerous times he got kicked out of school, and finally when he was 17, they told him not to come back.  My grandfather gave him an ultimatum...."Go in the military, or come work for me".  Dad chose the military, thinking that it would get him away from his dad, and his firm discipline. He admits now, that within a few months he wished he hadn't, it wasn't so green on the other side of the fence.
 Gordon E Nichols, Jessie A (Ede) Nichols, Patricia M (Blanchard) Nichols, Everett G Nichols
Just two years after getting out of the Army, he married my mother.  He had known her most of his growing up years, they lived in the same neighborhood, and he hung out with her older brother Al for a lot of the time.  He actually dated her younger sister Lou, and was engaged to her for part of the time he was in the Army, but it didn't work out.  Good thing, otherwise I might not be here.
Funny thing I have always wondered, and my mother can't say (for whatever reason)...he asked her out many times, and she kept telling him to "go away and grow up".  Apparently he did, enough for her to want to marry him anyway.
Over the years he has worked many jobs...mechanic, part time carpenter, part time logger, and 27 years as a shipwright at a local navy yard...anything to pay the bills and care for his family.
 And now we take care of him.  47 years of marriage to my mother, and we watch her help him get through each day as he fights cancer.  He is a miracle.  The odds are against him, but he fights with all he has.  He is stubborn, cranky sometimes, but loving beyond belief.  And if you want to see Poppa Bear come out, mess with his family.  Especially me, his only daughter, my mother, or his granddaughters.  He will hurt you and ask questions later.
My maternal grandmother always told me I was too much like him.  I always took it as a compliment even though she didn't mean it that way.  My only wish, if I could change things, is that he would have had a closer relationship to my boys.  That is how he is like his father.  He is the strong silent type with the boys, the ones who need him most.  Need his guidance, his wisdom.  So I tell them what I can of him, of his life, what he would think of different situations, so that they can know him.  Not the same thing, but it's better than nothing.

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