Above / July 4, 1994, was a fun time to “See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil” while celebrating Independence Day with my Dad, Mom and cousins at Aunt Frannie’s summer house. The fifth of 11 children, Dad was known as “the chip off the old block” for being so much like his Dad. Dad’s family and good friends called him “Chips.”
For several years after we moved to Naperville in 1993, we spent Independence Day with my Aunt Frannie, my mother’s sister, at her summer house on Lake Freeman near Indiana Beach. My folks lived in Muncie, so it was the perfect place to meet for many family reunions. Fireworks shot off from pontoons were spectacular!
One year, somebody asked a silly question that sent Dad, Mom and Aunt Frannie into a portrayal of the classic “Three Wise Monkeys,” representing the proverbial saying, “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” Fortunately, I had my camera. That photo is framed and forever present on one of our bookshelves. I see it every day.
According to the Oxford University Press, “The Wise Monkeys originated in Japan, where they have been known since the 16th century; statues of them are set at crossroads in honour of Koshin, the God of Roads, whose attendants they are. There, their slogan is Mi-zaru, kika-zaru, iwa-zaru, ‘No seeing, no hearing, no speaking’, with a pun on saru, Japanese for ‘Monkey’, and it is used seriously to teach prudence and purity.”
Small statuettes of three monkeys (one covering his eyes, another his ears, and another his mouth) are reported to have been popular in Britain since the 1900s. Images of the trio were considered to be lucky charms, carried by soldiers during World War I.
I consider myself lucky to have the photo that depicts wit and wisdom.
Go, Navy! Boiler Up!
Dad enlisted in the U.S. Navy Seabees during World War II as a 3rd Class Carpenters Mate, and later was promoted to 2nd Class Carpenters Mate in the South Sea Islands. While on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, Dad passed tests for the Navy V-12 Program.
Upon his return to the U.S., he was selected for his course of study at Purdue University in 1944. And that’s where Aunt Frannie introduced Dad to my mother in 1945.
My folks were married on Valentine’s Day in 1947. The following year after Dad’s graduation, they moved to Muncie, Ind., where Dad taught at the Muncie Trade School for several years. He then worked for local home builders before he founded his general construction company in 1957.
Dad rarely talked about his experiences during World War II. We three kids suggested he take the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. Yet, he refused to sign up for the Indy Honor Flight while my mother was living (She died in 2016 from the slow fade of dementia, then Alzheimer’s). Then Labor Day weekend in 2016, he took the trip with my brother, Jim, as his “guardian.” Jim’s also a Navy Veteran who served in the Bay of Tonkin during the Vietnam War.
The well-planned unforgettable tour of the National Mall with its World II Memorial and other monuments in Washington, turned out to be an experience he’d never imagined. And from that day-trip forward, he highly recommended the Honor Flight for anyone who’d ever served. His memorial gifts were to the Honor Flight.
Through all the ups and downs and rocky roads of life, faith, freedom and simple joys blessed our family one day at a time. I’m forever grateful for growing up with an 11PM curfew and that Dad always waited up for me reading in his easy chair, ready to discuss what he’d been reading all evening.
From Dad to Grandpa to Great-Grandpa
Dad was tough and strict. He used to quip that he’d always welcomed the hard knocks of parenting his three children—though he gave Mother most of the credit when life went well.
By the decade, Dad softened. He’d add that his eight grandchildren were pretty special.
Then along came his 10 great-grandchildren. One by one, Dad always was in awe of how every great-grandchild was an individual with family traits passed along that showed unique similarities from one generation to the next. Dad considered being a great-grandfather as a blessed extraordinary experience, one he cherished every day.
For a week that ended Friday, June 17, 2022, I found great joy in taking care of our 4-year-old granddaughter while her parents vacationed with four other couples, all friends since high school.
Mariko enjoys being silly. She would have enjoyed making her great-grandfather laugh.
“Please take my picture, Grandma,” she’d say. “Let me see it, Grandma,” she’d add.
After downloading dozens of digitals, I thought of Dad as I went through the photos of Mariko, imagining they depicted “See no evil (Mizaru), hear no evil (Kikazaru) and speak no evil (Iwazaru).”
On Father’s Day, “A must read for Father’s Day” headline appeared among email subjects with references to “Inspiring Quotes.”
I’ve got to dispute the choices and suggest the best quote came from my Dad a few weeks before he died. When my brother, Jay, hadn’t answered his phone, Dad left in a heated message on his voicemail.
“What the hell’s going on?” Dad wondered.
Dad lived to be 96 with all his wits about him. He died August 6, 2019. Dad never would have put up with the pandemic.
And more than a few times the past couple years, I’ve heard many other individuals quote that message he left on my brother’s voicemail.