Chapter Twenty-one: Sam Realizes that He Is Different

Samuel (Papa Sam) was only five years old at the time when the realization hit him that he was different. He did not have the maturity to understand how or why he was differnt, it was just something that he felt deep inside. To rehash his past just briefly, Papa Sam was born on a less than auspicious date on the calendar. As a matter of fact, it was probably the worst possible date for any child. He was born on a Friday the 13th, if that wasn’t bad enough he was born in the month of December. This meant that his birthday would most likely be forgotten in lieu of its closeness to Christmas. Oh, to have been born in June. It was the perfect time to be born for a child, because you got a gift every six months, it just didn’t get any better than that.

Our poor Papa Sam just couldn’t catch any breaks. Though to give tribute to his parents they did give him a small token gift for his birthday on the 13th every year like clockwork. But the emphasis was on token not on gift. He got useful things, in other words, totally useless things in the eyes of a child. He got socks and underwear and stuff like that. What the hell kind of gift is that for a child of five! Yes, our poor Papa Sam was different. At least Christine his older sister got dolls and other toys for her birthday. Socks and underwear, what the hell?! I know I am repeating myself, I do so because I can feel his pain. At least he didn’t get the shit kicked out of him by his fellow classmates like I did on a daily basis. I guess it could have been worse for our poor Papa Sam.

So how was Papa Sam different than his sister, besides the day he was born and the fact that he got crappy gifts for his birthday? This is a complicated question especially for one so young. As much as I hate to admit it the answer is also probably too complicated for a five year old child to understand. However, since I don’t know of any five year old child reading a two volume historical novel based on a three generation fictional family, I can only assume that you have the maturity level to understand the reasons for the difference. Silly question, why am I even writing these books anyway? Well, the answer is…maybe later. Yes I know I just created an artificial cliffhanger.

Over the passage of time there has always been an issue of male masculinity. It has always been less than acceptable for men to show emotions to other men or for that matter to anyone. When a man shows any emotion it makes him somewhat less of a man. By emotions, I am referring to expression of affection. Of course, it is acceptable for a husband to show affection for his wife as long as it is behind closed doors or the privacy of their own home. It is also acceptable to show affection towards your female offspring, i.e., your daughter. However, once your manchild reaches the age of two or later it becomes less desirable for the father to show affection to his son. Lucky for us this has changed somewhat in the 21st century. Though there are some cultures that still stick to this outdated practice.

However, in the 20th century when Grandpa Gordon and Papa Sam were born this practice was still quite common and was in fact the norm. If you don’t believe it just watch the 1983 movie “A Christmas Story”. The movie was set in the 1940s. Besides being one of the funniest movies ever made, the family interactons that are depicted tend to be quite accurate. The perfomance of Darren McGavin who plays the father of the hero in the movie is spot on. Do yourself a favor if you haven’t already watched the movie do so, that is of course after you finish reading this work.

There was also the issue of his birth and the unfortunate hysterectomy that was performed on his mother that has been hanging over him these five long years. Papa Sam, of course, has never been aprised of this event, mainly because he was simply too young to understand what had happened. Eventually the closely guarded secret will come out. As a matter of fact, it will be revealed in the next chapter.

Our Papa Sam had no clue that all of these things were going on behind the scenes, he just knew that he was treated differently than his sister Christine. We, however, have established already that this difference was in part due to the outdated norms of the time. Of course, having this knowledge might have helped him to understand things a little better. However, that is just the way things were.

There is one more reason for Papa Sam to be treated differently and it’s related to his father’s career path. He was an Air Force pilot who had fought in two wars by the time Papa Sam was born. As a result, his father Grandpa Gordon had a lot of baggage to deal with including PTSD. So how can you expect Grandpa Gordon to have the finer aspects of parenting all worked out, especially since he didn’t have his own shit worked out? Well my answer to this is tough shit. Nobody forced him to get married and to raise a family, did they? Of course, the answer is no. This is where I put some of my personal beliefs out there. I believe that raising a family is the most important job anyone can take on. You are bringing innocent beings onto this earth that are totally reliant on you the parent for everything, including how they will even think. So you had better have your shit straight before you take this challenge on. I also believe that the government doesn’t owe you as the parent anything. If you can’t afford to raise a child, don’t have one. I know that this may seem to be a little harsh but life is hard and there are no free rides either.

So, yes I blame Grandpa Gordon for how his son turned out. He is lucky that his son did as well as he did. While Grandpa Gordon was in fact an honorable man, he put his beliefs and values before his families’ needs. Even though he was only over in Vietnam for a year, there was no reason for him to even be there in the first place. He only did so out of some misguided sense of duty, a duty that he more than fulfilled on countless occasions. Then when he got back from overseas he let his job keep him from spending quality time with his family. I know he did an OK job, he just could have done a whole lot better. He never tolerated anything but perfection in his military life, why did he settle for anything less in his personal one?

So who paid for his less than stellar perfomance as a parent, his son Papa Sam did, that is who. This brings us back to our little confused five-year old boy. No wonder he is uncertain about the events transpiring in his lfe. He knows things are different, he just doesn’t have the maturity to figure them out yet.