What do you see when you look at this young man? I see a shock of very dark hair that doesn't lie flat, dark eyes that engage the viewer, and just a hint of a smile. I wonder what he was thinking. Do you think maybe he was a tease?
This is my father, Lee Doyle, and I'm remembering him on his birthday. He was born on a farm in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania, on this date in 1913. He had a twin sister, Leila, who died 3 days after birth. And then, just a few short weeks later, his mother passed away. He was raised by his grandmother until he was 3, when his father remarried.
I don't think this photo gives the least indication how intelligent my father was. Had he had the opportunity, I believe he could have become an engineer or had a career in some other scientific or mechanical field. As it was, growing up on a farm and coming of age during the Great Depression, his options were limited. His schooling ended at the 8th grade because he was needed on the farm. I believe he regretted not being able to have more formal education. He claimed that he didn't read well and didn't enjoy reading, but I often saw him reading the newspaper or a book. His ability with numbers was phenomenal. No need for a calculator with my father: he multiplied triple digit figures in his head more quickly than I could punch the numbers on a calculator. He was able to repair any- and everything that broke as well as figure out creative ways to make things better or easier. He just seemed to have a mind that understood the workings of things.
He was stubborn -- not necessarily to have his own way, but in the pursuit of a goal. Generally, when he determined that he would do something, he did it no matter what obstacles were thrown in his way. His children joke about how they inherited the Doyle stubbornness, though they don't always necessarily associate it with overcoming obstacles.
I wish I'd had the opportunity of knowing my father when he was younger -- a child, a youth, a young adult -- or as a contemporary. What would I have known about him then that I didn't know as his daughter?
Happy Birthday, Dad. I miss you.
Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.