Growing Up Without Transparency
And Finally Discovering It

This is one of my haunting essays. So, what’s happening? Several issues morphed together, resulting in more questions. These are some haunting questions I wanted to answer that made sense to me. The first question bothering me was why I had things swirling around in my mind begging for answers. Approximate answers weren’t didn’t suffice. That is why I always write about my journey down the yellow brick road of life.

Another haunting issue was my father. I wanted transparency in my life as a young child. For example, my father was drafted due to WWII and wound up in the South Pacific. I was born several months before he left the States. My parents never mentioned the war. I knew that my father went to Officer Candidate School (OCS), got his commission in November 1942, and was promoted to captain less than a year later. By then, he was stationed at Ft. Bliss, Texas. All this information was contained in my father’s Record of Service.

I was born on January 20, 1943, and lived with my mother and her parents in Merchantville, NJ. Three months later, I was on a Greyhound Bus from Philadelphia to El Paso, TX, with my mother. My father was stationed at Fort Bliss. She packed me up for a 2,200-mile bus drive. Today, it would take over fifty hours to drive that distance on a bus on the Interstate. I have no idea how long it took eight decades ago.

My parents never mentioned that my mother took me to see my father before he left the States for the South Pacific. My parents wanted to see each other, and my father wanted to see me for the first time. It must have been a bittersweet time together. They saw each other, perhaps for the last time, due to the war. It might also be the last time my father saw me.

This photo is one of a handful of pictures from our first meeting. I didn’t seem overly excited about seeing my father for the first time. I must have questioned why some guy was holding me.

This is another photo of the three of us together. I still would have preferred my mother to hold me.

They never mentioned those few days in El Paso at Fort Bliss. I only knew about our time together because I had a baptismal certificate from a Presbyterian church in El Paso.

Several months later, my father arrived in Saipan. He was in charge of an antiaircraft battalion. The following year, the army moved the battalion to Iwo Jima. He never mentioned his time during the war except for one story.

By the time he got to Saipan, Americans had controlled much of Saipan. I don’t recall why he told me about going up into the airfield’s observation tower. It was just a wooden structure with a small room at the top. It had to have been late in the evening. He wanted to take a nap or sleep up there that evening. He said he woke up the following day and noticed that a Japanese Zero had strafed the airfield, including the tower. The machine gun of the Zero had hit the room at the top of the tower with a couple of dozen bullets when he was asleep. I don’t recall my father saying he was lucky that some random Japanese plane hadn’t killed him.

My father returned safely from the war in the Pacific. When the army discharged him, he kept some military clothing and items, like a jacket, shoes, canteen, and a shovel. I don’t recall seeing a rifle, handgun, helmet, or hand grenade. When I saw this photo on the Internet, it brought back memories of long ago.

WWII vintage

My father’s mementos of the war were still used when he worked in the yard. He still wore his jacket even when I was in college two decades after his time in the South Pacific.

Therefore, there wasn’t much transparency afforded me during my childhood and teenage years, and I was too young to ask for my information. However, that was long ago. In the decades of my journey on the yellow brick road, things changed my Weltanschauung. There have been a couple of life-changing events. I danced with death twice. While I don’t wish to relive either dance, I learned about life from my dancing. Doing my dances caused me to grasp the reality that my clock was ticking. Everyone knows that their time is limited…intellectually. I know it in my gut. There is an immediacy about life after doing the dance.

Gilgamesh tried to discover immortality and finally woke up to living. He grasped that immortality wasn’t possible and said, “Forget death and seek life.” Living life means transparency. For three decades, I have written several thousands of essays.

Additionally, I met my family a decade ago near Inle Lake, Myanmar. We are family.

It all started when I met a nine-year-old child who wanted to play Scrabble with me.

A decade later, Ti Ti will come to America to attend college and live in my home.

My writing about the fun times we shared expresses my transparency with Ti Ti, her sisters, and her parents. If writing isn’t your forte, merely telling your family and friends what you think and why is so essential. Be transparent. If you express what whirls around in your mind and heart, you will become a model for them. It becomes a teaching moment for all.