Friday, June 14, 2013

Roots Going Back To Captain Kidd The Pirate!

Here it is almost Father's Day and I haven't blogged since around Mother's Day. Wow! Speaking of which... 

My dad has been doing some interesting things lately making me to truly believe that our roots really do go back to Captain Kidd, the pirate.  Up until now it was just speculation, mainly because of the family name on my Dad's Maternal Line, KIDD.  We have the Kidd Family History Book that says that there is a likelihood that we do have roots that connect us to the infamous privateer or pirate depending on whose story you'd like to believe.  The main reason for Captain Kidd's fame is that he was tried, convicted and hung as a pirate!  His stolen ship is believed to have been recovered off Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic in 2007!  However, there is compelling evidence that he was set up by English nobility and even royalty to do some creative privateer mercenary ventures with a ship.  The ship was provided for him, the objective was provided to him and all he needed to do, supposedly, was come back with a percentage of the loot.  Any extra was his to keep and divide with his crew.  What wasn't provided him was a guarantee he wouldn't be thrown under the ship bus, should authorities come a-callin'.  Captain Kidd ended up being tried for piracy and murder, convicted and hung as an example, his body left aloft in a gibbit for all to see and serve as a warning.

So now here we are today.  My Dad is 84 years old.  He worked hard all of his life, leaving home at the age of 17 to work as a merchant marine, on the huge cargo ships of the time, going all around the world importing and exporting cargo.  He took a couple years off to serve in the U.S.Army in Germany and Switzerland.  It was a sweet assignment and he has beautiful pictures of him and his comrades touring around Europe.  After that, back to the sea he went and eventually retired at age 45.  By then, I was almost 11 years old and had barely seen my dad for more than a couple months out of each of those years. 

His was a hard adjustment and it was my poor mother who almost went crazy with his sometimes uncouth and very sea faring ways.  But he worked hard and was a good provider and did what was expected in church, home and family.  He put 3 daughters through college and to his son he gave invaluable lessons in hard work and improvising with what you have to make it work.  He turned out to have an incredible talent for fixing any kind of engine and did that for many years, in addition to acquiring several smaller apartment buildings and a couple of smaller homes.  We lived in Northern California and real estate was getting more and more valuable.  At the height of the real estate bubble, he decided to sell and move.  He came out quite nicely.  He then turned around and bought a home in Virginia and lived there for a couple of years and then sold that and moved to where both he and my mom were born--Utah.  That is where he made bank.  He bought 4 condos and two homes.  None of them had mortgages to speak of.  He put them in a family trust, where we could help him take care of the properties and manage the trust.  He was really good at fixing the properties and getting them ready for rent, once they had been vacated. 

For some reason, he has always loved to invest in gold and silver.  When he was home from the sea, he would go mine gold.  He and a few buddies would buy mining rights to nearby mines and pan gold, mine gold and hunt gold.  As a matter of fact, he actually is a hoarder of gold and silver and who knows where he keeps it all.   Now as he is getting older, he sees that he may not be able to manage his properties much longer.  So what is he doing?  He's selling them all off, and some of them at substantial losses. My siblings and I are a little perplexed.  After all, we could manage them for him.  But Dad doesn't trust property management companies and frankly, he doesn't trust us either.  No one can do it the way he does it, so he feels like if he can't do it, no one will do it at all.  So sell them he will and what will he invest in?  Gold.  Gold.  Gold.  

He's rather secretive about what he does with his gold.  Probably the best thing to do after he dies is go through the house with a metal detector!  When I asked him why he was doing it, he replied that he has a deep-seated fear of being left with nothing.  He was born in the Depression and when he was growing up, they were extremely poor.  His mother would boil bones multiple times to make soup, they would eat apricot pits for treats, potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner and on Christmas a special treat would be to split an orange between them.  Eventually, he bought a house for his dear mother, my grandmother.  She was ecstatic to have a home with sewage and running water!  We lived by her and my grandpa all my life in California. 

As he gets older, that fear is rising up within him again and he can't shake it.  He feels like this country is going to tank and when it does, it will be worse than the Great Depression ever was. He has always lived so frugally.  Sometimes I feel guilty for going on a vacation, getting new clothes or throwing away plastic containers because he saves pie tins and yogurt containers and has been wearing the same shirts for years. 

Since my mother died, he has been lonely.  He also has anxiety and doesn't like to be in public much because he doesn't hear well and feels like it is too much money to get a hearing aid.  I don't know what to do for him other than to check on him once in awhile.  He has great neighbors who check on him and clear his walkways in the snowy weather.  He also loves to help them--always offering to fix a snow blower or lawn mower or even get up into a tree to trim branches!  But I am flabbergasted when I hear about him getting on the roof to do some repair work or going outside in the winter and slipping on the ice falling flat on his back or injuring his thinning skin on some tool.  Last year he got a really bad infection from a wound and almost died!  But he's a proud man and will never consent to go into an assisted living facility or even have anyone live with him in his 3-story home.  When it's his time to go, he wants to go without tubes, pills, walkers or wheelchairs.  He has instructed us to not prolong his life due to artificial means.  

And so my pirate of a father, though a good man and one whom I am particularly fond of, is living out his life doing what he knows best--living a solitary life, calling his own shots, surrounded by his treasures.  I now know that I am indeed from pirate stock!   I should have been a banker!
images - Wikapedia and Google images

Update: Soon after this post, my dad decided that he needed help and requested that my husband and I come and live with him, which we gladly did.  We have been helping him ever since and he is doing well!  


Literary Winner said...

Your father sounds fascinating! Thanks for sharing his life with us :)

Jennifer said...

Happy Father's Day to your dad! What an amazing life he's had!