A short time after this photo was taken, O left her family for another man. No one knows exactly why, or the events leading up to this abandonment, but there are theories. We won't go into them here. My grandmother's leaving left a definite mark on my father, and helped shape him to be the man he became. As you can imagine, his life changed dramatically, and not in a good way. My grandfather later remarried, and that improved life a bit, thank goodness.
When Dad reached the age where he could escape the farm on his own for a little while, he would hang out with my mother's brother TC. They spent much of their time aggravating my mother as much as possible.
At the age of 17, AJ joined the USMC. He left school without graduating, but obtained his GED while in the service.
He was known to say that compared to his life growing up, boot camp was "nothing" or "a picnic". He was sent to Korea, where the war of that era raged. His assignment in that war, was to recover the dead. Can you imagine being 18 or 19, and having to find your fallen comrades, and physically carry them off the field of war? I can't. And I can't imagine the nightmares that must have provoked.
When AJ returned, he noticed pretty quickly that my Mom had grown up. A lot. And thus a courtship ensued, resulting in marriage
They began what was a 20 year life in the military. During my fifth grade year, my father was deployed again, this time to Vietnam. That year was terribly long for all of us, and I can't imagine how he felt being separated from all of his family for so long.
Again, he came home with nightmares and was very sensitive to fireworks and loud noises the rest of his life.
We moved from station to station until I was 12 years old, and then came back to settle close to my mother's parents. After retirement, Daddy held several jobs, mechanic, logger, postal carrier and then was elected county judge for two terms. The roll he was happiest in. (Aside from all the coaching he did of young men in baseball.)
Then without warning, he was stricken with Laryngeal Cancer. He fought it for years, rallying at times, and then it would blast him again. He fought that battle as the Marine he was. He never gave up, even until the end. But he was ready to meet his Lord face to face, on March 12, 2005.
Today, he would have been 76, and in his memory, and in love, I placed a Marine Corps flag at his grave.
I miss you my dearest father. You were always faithful....to the end.