On Being Your Father’s Father

Father, Jack KoenemanPeople often say that when children get older they become the parents of their parents. Sometimes it’s the slow, inexorable march of age. Sometimes it’s illness or a traumatic event.

I became my mother’s parent very young. She was mentally ill and it fell to me to care for her (and sometimes my mentally ill grandmother and sister’s daughter). It left many scars, and I’d not wish the experience on anyone, but there was some goodness in it. At only six or seven I didn’t even understand that it. She died young and it wasn’t until then that I really understood our relationship.

With my Dad, it was completely different. I knew the exact moment he became my child.

My father was an air traffic controller. He weathered the strange shifts and pressures of his job and an uncontrollable life. He was quick-tempered and aggressively decisive, but also a kind man. Although I had to shoulder an unfair and huge burden I always knew he loved me and that given the ability he would’ve made my life entirely different.

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Happy Father’s Day Dad: Fair Winds and Following Seas

A Father’s Day tribute to my own father and the life he lived (1923-2010). Dad, I miss you every day. Fair winds and following seas old man.

Jack Koeneman (He Had No Middle Name) - Circa 1923

Jack Koeneman (He Had No Middle Name) – Great Falls, MT (Circa 1924)

Dad, Doris,and Dad's father Carl Koeneman - Circa 1930

Dad, Doris, and Dad’s father Carl Koeneman Visiting Railyard Where Carl Worked – Near Great Falls, MT (Circa 1928)

Dad, His Sister Doris, and the Family Dog - Circa 1930

Dad, His Sister Doris, and the Family Dog in the Yard – Butte, MT – Circa 1930

Dad and Cousin Bill Mussleman Clowning in the Yard - Butte, MT (Circa1939)

Dad and Cousin Bill Mussleman Clowning in the Yard – Butte, MT (Circa1939)

Dad and His Sister Doris - Butte, MT (Circa 1940)

Dad in His Blues and His Sister Doris – Butte, MT (Circa 1940)

Dad at Work as a Civil Aeronautics Adminisrtration Flight Service Radio Operator - Bettles, AK (Circa 1947)

Dad at Work as a Civil Aeronautics Administration Flight Service Station Radio Operator – Bettles, AK (Circa 1947)

Mom (Wilma Evelyn Koeneman) and Dad Get Married - Elkins, WV (Circa 1950)

Mom (Wilma Evelyn Koeneman) and Dad Get Married – Elkins, WV (Circa 1950)

Mom and Dad in Kempsville House Just Before Virginia to Alaska Driving Trip - Va. Beach, VA (Circa 1979)

Mom (Out of the Hospital) and Dad in Kempsville House Just Before Virginia to Alaska Driving Trip – Va. Beach, VA (Circa 1979)

Dad and Third Wife (Mary Lou Buchanan, Shenadoah Valley, VA - (Circa 1995)

Dad and Third Wife (Mary Lou Buchanan), Shenandoah Valley, VA – (Circa 1995) Dad’s Second Wife Was Eloise Sassnet

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Is the Le Leche League Anti-Male?


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When my daughter was an infant I took her to many places without Mom. Grocery stores, restaurants, and even to my auto mechanic to name a few. It was not a rare occurrence for women I’d never seen before to quiz me on where Mom was. Most implied that I was incompetent to handle a child and it was dangerous for me to be out and about without my wife’s supervision. A few didn’t imply, they were angrily emphatic about my child rearing qualifications.

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