Thursday, April 6, 2023

 Childhood’s End

I didn’t die that day but something did.

I didn’t feel it, I didn’t see it.

But it was very real.

A few moments in silence, a touch.

And it was gone forever and I never heard it leave.

I didn’t miss it nor had any idea of its value.

You can’t miss what you didn’t know you had.

Eventually much older and wiser I noticed it was gone.

Why did it have to leave so early.

I’m left with memories of what was left in place of.

I’m left with a deep longing for a myth.

A fantasy.

A cruel glimpse of what could have been.

Maybe should have been but wasn’t.

The ghost of should that haunts adulthood.

Childhood aborted

Childhood’s end.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

 The following is my Letter to my inner little Rog.

Hey, Booger.

I have a different attitude toward that name now that I’m older. When I was you, I didn’t mind. From mom, it was a token of affection as in “Booger boo Alan Mann”. I know you loved mom. Her displeasure could always get to you. She didn’t have to get mad or spank. All she had to do was give you that look and you felt crushed and contrite. I love that about you. You were tenderhearted even back then. You wanted to please and when you hadn’t you were ashamed. You are such a sweet loveable kid. A very handsome boy with a wonderful smile.

I owe you an apology. I realize now you couldn’t help what happened to you. You didn’t even know it was bad. I know now how much you loved your dad and wanted him to like you. I think he did Rog. He just had some serious problems with what we now know was sex.

Back then you didn’t know about that stuff. Everyone else seemed to know or at least know more than you. But you were imaginative, inquisitive, and enjoyed discovering new things. You did know a few things about God and Heaven and Jesus. And you knew God loved you bunches and would always listen to you and hear your prayers. Did you know he was always with you? Even in the bad times.

I remember how you felt when after his “visit” he would just leave and not stay and talk to you. You wanted him to lay down beside you and hold you and tell you he loved and cared about you. But he didn’t did he? He just left you in the dark naked and sad. I too am sad for you now that I’m all grown up and have lived an amazing life. But God was there and helped you to sleep and forget some of the feelings.

I loved the way you could play with friends or just by yourself and be content and find the day fulfilling.  You were a smart kid too. Not that anyone noticed right away. I know you zoned out a lot in class at school. The teacher thought you were just not getting the lesson but you were escaping the loneliness and sadness by imagining other times and places that you read about. And you read a lot too. You were a good reader and read lots of books. Oh, the imagination you had. I think mom saw it in you and probably appreciated it. She thought the flying saucers and spaceport you created out of cardboard were amazing. I’m sad that after you left for college she threw it all away.

I’m sorry dad didn’t understand you or how his actions had impacted you. I mailed him a tape in my late 20s and described how I was hoping to be healed of my homosexuality issues. It made him very sick for three days and he burned it so no one else could hear it. I think he was sorry for what he did. He did try to apologize to me once.

I suspect he loved you in his own way. They must have known there was something wrong. The underwear, the firebug thing, the sleeping naked, and him catching you with other boys. I don’t think he told anyone about that.

You did have a couple of good friends who were “nice” and didn’t want to do bad stuff. I like the fact that you could really be a good friend to others when they needed one. I’m glad you’re my inner boy. I love you so much. I understand you so much better now. I wish we could really talk and I could sit and hold you and tell you how wonderful you are. If you were here today like Jack, my grandson I would love you like I do Jack. He’s a wonderful boy very loving and sweet. Just like you were back then and probably still are deep inside of me.

Well, I can’t really be there for you for real but I will love you through Jack and I will think of you and what a treasure you are to me. You saved me back then in a thousand different ways. I thank you for that.

I have to stop now my eyes are getting misty and it’s hard to see the page. Just know that I love you bunches and like you a lot.

All my love, Roger


 Sometimes, Father God

Sometimes in my anger and arrogance, I want to march into Your presence and just tell You how I feel about the way things seem to be handled in my life.

Sometimes You let me.

Sometimes I want to rush into Your presence and fall on my face and just cry my heart out.

Sometimes You let me.

Sometimes I approach You with all my demands, requests, and lengthy petitions.

Sometimes You let me.

Sometimes I just want to tell You I’m sorry for being such a putz and can You just hold me for a while?

And You always let me.

Then I notice that You have saved all my rants, all my tears, all my recriminations, all my demands, and lengthy petitions, all carefully there in Your lap.

I no longer wonder if You love me, just why?

I may never understand that till I see You face to face, but can I just say thank You right now?

When I grow up, I want to be just like You.



 I grew up in the  50s, a TV kid. I watched a lot of TV. Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show, The Nelsons, Leave it to Beaver. My Three Sons. These were all designed to be wholesome family shows and were of course probably totally unrealistic. Each had their own little issues solved usually in 20 to 25 minutes. Brothers for the most part were affectionate and helpful, Sisters seldom had issues with each other that couldn’t be solved with a chat from mom or dad. And moms and dads were loving and respectful. It was a little slice of heaven between five thirty and seven each evening. I loved it. I ate it up. That was the fifties.

Then the sixties came along. Sitcoms were getting a little grittier. They were dealing albeit carefully with more social issues. There was Rowen and Martin’s Laugh-in. I loved it and all the little innuendos they managed to slip it now and then. It was my guilty pleasure.

But I was becoming more aware that my father sometimes didn’t know best and that I was not the Beaver Cleaver of the family.

The facade was slipping and I was really clueless about how to handle what was under it. There were contradictions and confusion on many levels that were becoming overwhelming not just in my family but in the societal environment I was in. My escapism was becoming a bigger part of my daily life.

As I look back I think what really got me the most was the disconnect between those fifties shows and my own family life. I wanted a dad I could come home and talk to about what I was being exposed to in school and with my peers. I wanted a dad that would sit with me and ask me how my day was and impart wisdom and affection to me. I wanted a dad I could look up to and brag about. I wanted to come home to Fred MacMurray from My Three Sons. But the reality was quite different.

I don’t think I’ve ever really grieved that loss. I came home to a quiet house where we all kind of did our own thing. Where being around dad was uncomfortable. He looked at me in odd ways sometimes and really didn’t want to talk about anything. I was given directions instead of affection. What affection I did get was usually in the middle of the night and with few or no words. Sometimes when he was near me I got a weird kind of quivering in my stomach and I’d leave the room. I didn’t want to talk about my dad to my friends. I didn’t want them to meet him. I remember feeling uncomfortable with the way he sometimes looked at my friends.

It was a tremendous letdown and no matter how I tried I could not make excuses for him. He was not Fred MacMurray. I don’t know what or who he was and eventually, I decided around 15 years old that I didn’t want to know. I would continue to envy all the other dads of my friends and change the subject when a question about mine came up. And I hated that. I have never enjoyed Father’s Day and was always glad when it was over.

Even after all these years, it still hurts. And I’ve hated myself for all the lying to myself about him and making excuses and trying to please someone who couldn’t have cared less. I didn’t know that at the time. When you’re young you always hope. When I finally was forced to accept it at his death, a part of me died.

To this day I can’t help but still feel robbed. I can’t watch those shows anymore and don’t want to. My wife loves all of those and especially Little House on the Prairie. I just can’t watch. My dad loved The Rifleman. I’d watch it with him and wish I could be the kid in that show. He had a great dad. I loved the dad but I suspect dad loved the boy and that still hurts.

And so, I grieve I guess in my own way, and trust that my Heavenly Father will be all that I’ve missed when I see Him.