Joseph Michael Czahur was born on June 19, 1947. He’s my dad and for the longest time when I was a little kid I thought he was my twin and that I had to catch up to him age wise. I don’t understand the exact “science” or “theory” behind that. It might come from the fact that when my mom would get really mad at me for doing something that reminded her of him she would say to me in this deep voice that was part yell, part growl, “Your father couldn’t have spit you outta his mouth.”
I love my dad and wasn’t upset that he was my parent. And even when I was little I had a vague idea that there was some biology in the process in him being my “father”. But there were images and concepts in the phrase “spit you outta his mouth” that just cut me deep in my bones and flesh. I felt like I was being wounded and I didn’t understand why or how it was taking place.
I loved both of them at the time. I just didn’t want to know either one of them for a few minutes. When she would say that, I felt betrayed by the facts of genetics. I wanted to be my own person. Clean, distant, alone, unraveled and far away.
My dad was a sweet, lovable and wildly overprotective father. But he was also an alcoholic who was painful to watch. He worked for General Motors, barely doing what needed to be done to keep from getting fired. Before GM, he enlisted in the war and served on the front lines in combat at Viet Nam. I believe part of why he enlisted was because he was mentally ill and he needed the war to give him an excuse for some of his constant run ins with trouble. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of his service. He drove a tank, he walked the line and he was a demolitions expert. But he had no regard for his own life. He just wanted to impress his parents so badly that he put his life on the line. And in the end, his mother didn’t see him as a hero. She actually told him she was disappointed in him for making such a risky decision. My father only wanted to make his mother proud, but I am convinced that she was incapable of telling him what he wanted to hear. I don’t know why. And I am forever disappointed in her because of it. My father was a good man who made a lot of bad choices. I love and respect him. I’m forever grateful that by the end of his life, I earned his praise so much that my reward meant more to him than hers.
My father was a complex character. I need to take a very long time to explain him and I just don’t have it in me right now. But this is the first swing of the hammer at the large block that is his story. It’s a start.
I will write it all out at some point and I hope that when I do I do it justice. I love my father. At certain points in my life he has been, and in ways he will forever be my hero, my best friend and my muse. He taught me so very much about being a human being, being a writer, being a truth seeker. He allowed me to be free and never to fear getting caught.
I want you all to know my dad the way I know my dad. I want you all to see Joe Czahur the way that I do, but you can’t because that’s a special view that only I get to have. And even though it would be stellar to share it, it’s even more fantastic to keep it sacred.