Being a pilot in World War II was a time that affected the rest of his life. It left him with painful memories and feelings of guilt that he never quite conquered.
But when I think about what I know about him, I know that he loved the circus, and the movies. Both of these affections started when he was young. He remembered the circus coming to town and going to the Saturday matinees of the latest western serial.
Although he continued to attend the circus all his life, we bonded more successfully over films. After my parents separated, we spent Sundays together and going to the movies was a frequent choice of activities. We would go to new releases, old films, and sometimes special showings.
I remember soaking the knees of my jeans with my tears at a showing of How Green Was My Valley, and being introduced to the films of Frank Capra, whom my father worked for. Occasionally, I even got the chance to go to work with him, and hang around the prop truck, wardrobe truck, and watch the filming happen. They were fun times.
Dad also loved rollercoasters and rode on them every chance he could. Looking at the smile on his face in that open cockpit makes me think it was a poor substitute for flying.
Our relationship had its ups and downs over the years, although for the last thirty years we were good. I know that all his experiences made him who he was, and I loved him. I wish he were still around so I could call and sing to him on his birthday.