I Don’t Know His Story

[UPDATE]  I have been getting comments from people who knew my father and that is more than I had expected.  Please feel free to leave a comment, any sort of comment.  I will put them into a digest and post them in one post. If you prefer to contact me directly, you can email me at SPA@WALDINA.COM.  Again, thank you, Scott.

Last week, I collected all my Dad’s belongings the place he was staying and from the recovery center where he died.  All of his belongings fit into the back of a car.  After I went through everything and donated a lot, what was left fit in a small box. These photographs represent what is left of his physical belongings.  Where the automobiles, furniture, tools and everything else went is anyone’s guess.

Clockwise from Upper Left: Cribbage Board, Three Cellphones, Pipe, Small Notebook containing Notes and Phone Numbers, Watch/Compass, Wallet, Fishing Lure, Two Decks of Cards, Book About Baseball, Keychain I made in Cub Scouts, Reflective Light, Cribbage Board, Hammer and Multi-Head Screwdriver.
Clockwise from Upper Left: Cribbage Board, Three Cellphones, Pipe, Small Notebook containing Notes and Phone Numbers, Watch/Compass, Wallet, Fishing Lure, Two Decks of Cards, Book About Baseball, Keychain I made in Cub Scouts, Reflective Light, Cribbage Board, Hammer and Multi-Head Screwdriver.

The contents of his wallet leave more questions than answers.  He had a my sister’s baseball card from her little league and my 9th grade school photo, some money, a key, a few different bus passes and a bunch of business cards for doctors.

Contents of Wallet Clockwise from Upper Left: Transit Passes, Medical Cards, Sister’s Little League Baseball Card, My 9th Grade School Photograph, I.D. Card, Business Cards for Various Doctors, A Key, and $50.55.
Contents of Wallet Clockwise from Upper Left: Transit Passes, Medical Cards, Sister’s Little League Baseball Card, My 9th Grade School Photograph, I.D. Card, Business Cards for Various Doctors, A Key, and $50.55.

My dad died practically homeless.  He had a place to sleep at night, somewhere to keep his belongings, and somewhere that he could make meals, it was one of the back rooms of a business owned by a friend of his.  He would get up early and be gone before the people that worked there showed up and wouldn’t return until after they had left in the evening.  What he did all day and where he went is not known.  He had a bus pass and a lot of doctor appointments which can consume a lot of time, but not all day every day.

Since my dad died, I have been consumed with grief and regret.  I am losing him all over again and regret that I could do nothing about the last 20 years of his life.  He must have been so alone.

I have been walking the long way between the train and work lately, getting off a couple stops early or walking a couple stops further, partially because it has been beautiful out and I love the city, but partially because I see all these men sitting on benches in Pioneer Square, Prefontaine Park and City Hall Park and obsess over their unknown stories.  The prevalent thought is these men are sons, brothers, fathers, husbands, and could easily have been my dad.  These forgotten men.  We don’t know their stories.

I keep repeating in my head I don’t know his story.  I don’t know what happened, what factors fell into place to result in them being alone and on the outskirts of society.  I can’t judge them.  I can’t know their lives.

It is basically me walking around and letting go of all the anger I have had for my father all my life.  He wasn’t the father I thought he should be or the one that I needed or one at all for the last 30 years.  I believe that he wanted to be, but for some reason, he couldn’t.  Maybe he didn’t know how or maybe he thought that he didn’t deserve it.

I don’t know his story.

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23 thoughts on “I Don’t Know His Story

  1. So profound. So tragic. So well said.

    waldina wrote: > Scott Parker-Anderson posted: “Last week, I collected all my Dad’s > belongings the place he was staying and from the recovery center where > he died. All of his belongings fit into the back of a car. After I > went through everything and donated a lot, what was left fit in a > small box. Th” >

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  2. I am so sorry for your loss. Your dad came into the store I work at a lot less often the last couple of years. But I always looked forward to visiting with him and catching up on our families. He will be greatly missed!

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      1. When I first met Barbara it was at PSNS in the Supply Department. She was married to Jack Ray at the time, they divorced, and she married Ron Hansen, they lived in the Sunnyslope area for many years until they retired. I ran into them in Laughlin, Nevada about 15 years ago, and she said they were living in Lake Havasu City, Arizona at that time.

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      2. Thank you Cheryl. I heard that too, but have never been able to confirm an address. I have sent letters/cards to her over the years to addresses that I thought seemed accurate from internet searches, but have never heard anything back. I have also found another address in Arizona that may be accurate. Surprisingly, she has a very small (if not zero) internet presence. I thought she should know that her twin brother had passed away, but they were not at all close for the last 20 or so years.

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  3. Your dad’s sister, Barbara, was one of my best friends in highschool–West Bremerton High. She was one of my Bridesmaids. I knew Ron and considered him to be a very nice person. Ron and Barbara were twins adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Babb, and were thought to be descendants of Pocahontas. Mrs. Babb was from England and had a wonderful talent as a whistler, having performed on radio. Mr. Babb had a hobby of growing Dahlias and created new types naming some after your dad and Barbara. They were beautiful flowers. They lived in a house on the main street of Bremerton and the folks had a summer place on Hood Canal. The Babbs were very decent, very nice people. They both worked at the ship yard. Your dad was a quiet person and always very pleasant. I’m sorry I can’t tell you more about him.

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    1. Thank you for your information. It is more about the last 20 years of his life that I do not know about. We spread his ashes out in Hood Canal.

      I haven’t seen Barbara in 20 years, no one seems to know where she is.

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  4. Our parents have their own battles and issues. As someone who hears tragic stories from social workers from time to time, they, the homeless and disenfranchised, are the last ones that the homeless and addicted have contact with…even to their last breath. They carry shame and lack of worthiness and have no skills to engage their angry adult children, so they die alone. There is no fault…no blame, angry children don’t see human stories they see only the tunnel vision of loss and inadequacy. When you stop and see your parents as more than parents but as human beings with their own stories, you grow a little and your relationship becomes honest.

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    1. Thank you, I understand that he has his own story (it’s the title of this post), but I just do not know it. He made choices to distance himself from everyone, the reasons why are his own. It is sad that he spent the last 20 years away from his family, it is sad that he died alone.

      Also, I forgot to ask, did you know my dad?

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  5. Ron was a great friend and classmate to many while his quiet spirit was certainly his strength. I also remember Ron as well rounded while singing in the choir, President of the Latin Club, playing football and tennis as well as a proud member of the Lettermen Club. This is such a personal reminder that at some point in time we all have a seemingly battle we are fighting and not to judge. I am reminded of a great line in the song Colors of the Wind “You think that people who are people are people who think and look like you but if you walk in the footsteps of a stranger you learn the things you never knew, you never knew”. R.I.P. Ron while where ever your favorite spot was/is of your ashes you will never be forgotten. Lonny Folger, West High ’64

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  6. I went to school with Ron from grade school through high school.. Your dad and I had
    many beers together, good times. Your dad loved to salmon fish and so did I it didn’t matter if the weather was good or bad, we went no matter what.

    Lauren Stoner

    I knew your Dad from junior high on through high school. He was so very well liked and a great person. I just got out my year book and these are the activities he participated in: Outdoor Club, Football, Tennis, Wrestling, Chamber of Commerce, Choir, Modernaires (the elite singers), Latin Club President, Golden Paw, and Lettermen. This was Lettermen’s club which you earned through sports.

    I feel for you and as you said it is sad how he spent the last twenty years, none of us knew but his name has always been brought up at the class reunions and we were hoping to see Ron, too bad we didn’t know he needed our help.

    I hope you find some peace with input from those who are able to tell a story or two.

    Sincerely,
    Kathie Stoner

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    1. Thank you for sharing your memories, they are treasured more than I can express. It is giving me the confidence that he is not and will not be forgotten. I indebted to you and his other friends for giving me a well-rounded view of him and refocusing my impression of the man he was.

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  7. I knew your Dad since childhood. Lived near him when they were in the house on Pacific Avenue. His folks (your grandma and Grandpa) I always called Mr. and Mrs. Babb, very nice people. First met him in grade school at Smith School on Park Avenue. Would walk to grade school, jr high school and high school with him, not everyday but most days. I’d stop by and get him when I started driving to West High, that was in 1962.

    Kind of lost contact with him after we graduated in 1964. I worked at The Sun newspaper on 5th Street from 1960 until I went into the Air Force in June 1965. I guess he got married sometime while I was in the service.

    I came home in October 1967 for leave just before going over to Vietnam. I remember he was part of a group of old classmates that went down one night during my leave time to the 502 building in PSNS and played basketball, there was about eight of us. I got them all on the base and afterward we went in the canteena for a beer. We were having fun and shooting the bull and the server said “Bet you guys can’t drink a hundred cans of beer between you”. If you do the beer is on me. That was the wrong thing to say to 8 guys that had just turned 21. Needless to say we did drink the hundred cans of beer but we all felt pretty bad the next day.

    I got back home in November 1968 and got ahold of him. He and your Mom lived on Veldee Avenue (if I remember right) and I met her for the first time then and met you as a young child. I saw him off and on as I started on my career in beer and wine distribution in 1968.

    In September 1973 I got married and your Dad was one of the groomsmen in our wedding. We would run into each other on occasion over the years but that was by just happen chance. Had not seen him for a long time, last time I believe, was at Dick Thompson’s house on Kitsap Lake.

    After reading what you wrote I now understand why I did not run into him. He was a great friend over the years and I liked him a lot. Good bye Ronnie Babb!

    Jim Herdman

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    1. Jim, I am not sure if you will see this, but my mother just told me tonight that you are the one that gave me the outfit that I wore in a photograph taken on my first birthday. I want you to know that I still have that outfit. Thank you.

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