My Dad – a Book – and ‘Connection’

It’s been just about 9 years now since my dad passed away.  I had never been very close to him, my parents having divorced when I was 6 years old.

This post is about a bit of extra connection coming through books.

When my dad retired, he moved 1,000 miles away to the state of Washington. One of the last times I went up to see him in the weeks before he passed away I noticed several paperback ‘Western’ novels around the house. I never thought of my dad as much of a reader. The genre would probably be one of the last I would be interested in, so it never came up in conversation. Later I found out these were books that he enjoyed reading in his last few years as his health declined.

After my stepmother passed away this year I remembered the books. I asked her family about them, wanting to know if there were any of those Western paperbacks of dad’s that I could have. Alas, I was too late. Evidently they had been given away or thrown out.

Shalako 05

Doing a little research, I picked up one of those little Bantam paperbacks for $2 at a used book store. The book by Louis L’Amour is called Shalako, first published in 1962. I found out that L’Amour is possibly the most popular writer of western fiction.

Surprise, surprise, I really enjoyed it. Yes, ‘Cowboy and Indian’ stories are no longer the rage, considered pretty much politically incorrect now these days I guess. Still, this story of the old west, and the loner, Shalako, captured my imagination. He is a man comfortable with himself and his environment – a man very close to the ‘land.’

Reading this book help to lead me to a bit of reconnection with my dad. I’d forgotten that there were a couple of times I saw him that he’d be wearing a western type shirt, and once or twice he wore a cowboy hat. And I remembered that there were a few pictures where he sported that ‘Western’ look. I hadn’t really thought about it before but he did seem at times to have an affinity with the cowboy archetype – that independent, self-sufficient spirit.

Shalako 03
Maybe Louis L’Amour’s, Shalako, was one of the books dad had read. Maybe it was one he had enjoyed as much as I did. Maybe we had a common interest in stories, especially stories about men, responsibility, sacrifice, honor, and self-discovery.

It could be my dad was in some ways like me, finding in stories, in books and their characters, a bit of understanding and insight into himself.

Yes, I was looking for a bit of connection when I picked up that book. Yet I found a little more than I expected. Maybe a bit of speculation on my part, but I think that’s okay.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Why did you come back?” she asked suddenly.

If there was an answer to that he did not know what it was, nor was he a man given to self-analysis or worry about his motives. . . Knowing no logical answer, he did not attempt to make one, but walked beside her in silence.

 ~ From Louis L’Amour’s, Shalako

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About VocareMentor

Walk with the wise and become wise - Prov. 13:20 A lot of my blog comes out of the way I grew up. My parents divorced when I was 6 years old and I didn’t see much of my father. I had no understanding of how the lack of his presence in my life affected every choice I made as I grew up. Much of my adult life has been attempting to sort things out and catch up. Thus, what you’ll find on my blog are musings, thoughts, wisdom and ideas from history and pop culture. Themes: mentors, father/son, male/female, self-discovery, courage, stepping up, friendship and more.
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