Tom's Corner


Discovering Today
by
Tom Irons

© 2013 by Tom Irons---All rights reserved. (All wrongs forgiven)


ISBN yet to be obtained


Acknowledgements


        Few creations are accomplished by a sole person and this is certainly true of the following story. Just as someone conceived, designed, and built the computer I poked at these past years, others offered encouragement, corrected sentence structure, pointed out flaws and dangling participles, and told me to keep the stories coming. For all of these friends and champions I give my unbounded thanks.


        It all began with Lucas, my beautiful son. He was the reason behind the idea; he was the incentive to record my story- as a way of giving him an understanding of me and why I have made the decisions that I have made over the years of my variegated life.


        My siblings contributed their own words and sometimes much appreciated corrections to mine. A few times, they offered a valuable counterpoint regarding our common experiences.


        Thanks to Fred’s editing, publishing, and printing efforts our mother’s words helped to keep me on track with dates, names and her clarity found in the letters she wrote to Fred all those years. Alice and Frances shared memories of the old farm, Mom and Dad, and life on Taylor Pike. Nancy’s memories of Dad helped to paint a more complete picture of a fairly illusive man.


        When possible I asked participants to read and critique my memories. Sadly that was not always possible; there have been quite a few years and a lot of names called on that big roster in the sky.


        Then there is Angela; beautiful Angela. Her name is quite appropriate as she willingly plodded through the entire manuscript making corrections, suggestions, and pointing out vague and confusing passages- always in a loving and non-judgmental style.


        And of course there is Jeanie. Always in my corner, she encouraged me to keep at the task and never failed to assure me that what I was doing would someday be worthwhile, if not to Lucas, possibly to other distant and young family members. Jeanie is my strength, my light in the storm, my mentor.


        To all of these loved ones I give thanks. I am truly blessed. Errors, mistakes, inaccuracies, and oversights are all mine. There is no intent to aggrandize myself or purposefully stretch the truth, colorful and numerous adjectives not withstanding.


Tom Irons
Homer, Alaska 2013




Contents

Prologue:         Where I wax eloquent, give a few sound reasons for this creation, and at closing offer a toast to the reader’s well being.


Background and Introduction:         In which I give geologic history of the playing field, name some historical figures who played on the field, and described life before my arrival on the team.


Chapter 1 (1946):        Where I describe the game into which I was cast.


Chapter 2 (The Old Farm):         Here the reader gets a view into my first seven years of life.


Chapter 3 (On the Brown Farm):         Ages seven to twelve and the event that made a major change in my life’s direction is described.


Chapter 4 (BHS Days):         In which the traumas, dramas and decisions of my high school years are described but not analyzed.


Chapter 5 (Navy Days):         A clearly defined rendition of two more traumas, more changes in direction, and a vocational step up.


Chapter 6 (California & Aerospace):         Where my life as an adult starts, the importance of freedom is discovered, and the power of choice is forever imprinted in my psyche.


Chapter 7 (Tucson, Glass, Marriage, Lucas):         Where I put down roots, become an artist, a husband, and a father once again.


Chapter 8 (Alaska):         Tells how I discovered a world apart, a rustic and desirable way of life, and the peace and serenity of wilderness.


Chapter 9 (Among the Latter Years):         In which Jeanie and I set out to find a new and welcoming community in which to grow old in.


Chapter 10 (Life Essays):         Where we travel and I offer the wisdom found in a few good songs.


Chapter 11 (More Essays):         In which decisions are made, settling occurs and (inevitably) the next loss.


Chapter 12 (Endings):         The greatest loss and goodbye






Bibilography         A list of books and movies where I found useful reference material


Dear Gentle Reader,



        It’s been said that history repeats itself. I believe that to be true most poignantly when one fails to understand why he was presented with a particular life lesson. I’ve repeated a number of my father’s mistakes and I believe this is because he didn’t have the time to explain to me who he was or why he made certain decisions as his life unfolded. What is to follow here in these plain white pages are some of the reasons why I chose my life to be what it has been.


        This autobiography began in Milwaukee August 2006 as I sat at my desk and watched the antics of Canadian geese on the lawn and manmade lake next to our rented townhouse. The story continued in the hills of Bisbee, Arizona as they stood in stark relief to the blue-sky backdrop like paper cutouts, while I sat and drank fresh roasted coffee from just down the alleyway. I consumed a lot of that vile brew as I pondered what was worthy of revisiting about my life. For the past six years from that early Milwaukee beginning, through Bisbee, Fresno, Kernwood, and back and forth through the state of Washington until we came to rest on the shore of Homer, I’ve revisited memories long ago filed away as ‘past history’ (a redundancy- I know). Sixty years of living are packed into one small skull, one tiny brain. It’s been eyeopening (and at times a bit discouraging) to discover how revisiting memories over time has metamorphosed some of them into something completely different from the actual occurrence or at least the way others remember an event.


        As with most of my writing I either feel it is monumental creativity or superb crap. Seldom does it walk the middle ground of ‘acceptable’ in my humble estimation. Naturally I’ve omitted, glossed over, forgotten, or just plain refused to relate some memories. A few failed to make the grade because I wished to show respect for others, for their privacy and their feelings. One or two names of non-family members have been changed in order to avoid embarrassment. There aren’t many people I feel I owe an apology to but there are one or two and I would welcome the opportunity to deliver it. There are a few apologies owed me and I doubt I’ll ever receive them. That’s just another facet of life’s truths.


        If ever I have to face some grand inquisition of my life’s worth I suspect it may be found lacking in some areas. I’ve lived a life that, to many, has appeared to be self-centered and selfish. Maybe that’s true but I have tried to justify that indictment by doing my best to live my life with personal responsibility and integrity. I believe the key word here is ‘my’.


        I can’t count the times I heard my mother say to me with great remorse in her voice, “Your Dad never had a vacation in his entire life; he just worked himself to death.” By the time I was fourteen I had decided I would take enough vacations to cover those he missed and mine too.


        “Your father missed out on both world wars and it hurt him. He wanted to go but was too young for the first one and had a family to provide for when World War II came along.” My mother repeated this often, right up until I announced that I had joined the navy. I never heard her say it again, but I served enough years to cover any obligation of his, and mine, too. In later years I changed my mind about who should get credit for my extra years of service. Had I the ability at the time I would have offered them to Lucas if ever the need arose.


        I hope someone will gain a bit of insight into me and my life from the following pages. I certainly did in writing them. Basically, they show that a Southern Ohio farm boy can forge a path through life without becoming outstanding, rich, or famous. Granted, I’ve tried to not toot my own horn (too loudly or too often) in this exercise, beyond having fun with some descriptions of fond memories. Maybe I’ve failed to delve deep enough into family dynamics, maybe I should add, or rewrite better descriptions of all my siblings and the extended family members, but I probably won’t. What you see is what you get.


        In 1946, my father was struggling to keep food on the table and clothes on his family’s backs while toiling 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to increase the tillable acreage of his little swampland farm. None of my family members could have imagined that the little bundle of joy that was brought home from the hospital on Easter Sunday would have the experiences, travel to the places I’ve traveled, create the art I’ve been a part of creating, or grow into the persons I’ve been over the past 60-years.


        That plurality implying multiple persons is really another fact of life. I am not the person I was February 25th, 1986 when I carried Lucas into the chapel at TMC, I’m not the man Jeanie Aspen married in 1983, I’m not the green ‘boot’ who stepped off the bus at Great Lakes Recruit Training Center that cold night in 1965, and I’m certainly not the lost lad who watched his father be buried in 1957. The road that I’ve traveled from that swampland farm on Taylor Pike has led me through all fifty states and a few foreign countries. It has been a long, exciting, sometimes painful journey but always has it proved to be an interesting one. I would choose it again, anytime, over a boring life.


        I hope that someday someone can look back on the man I was, I am; the one who I may yet become and say, “He was a good person.” I believe that sentiment, if it is an honest judgment, would be the highest praise I could ever hope to attain.


        “May your rifle shoot true, your reel never snarl, your knife never dull, and your tent zipper never fail.” And may you find a bit of worth here.


Thomas Wayne Irons
Homer, Alaska



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