My Father Was a Writer

It was the six of us: my young parents and all four of us kids born in a five-year period beginning in 1958. We were each born on Marine bases, delivered by Marine doctors, Suzanne at Quantico in Virginia, me and Jeb at Camp Pendleton in California, and Nicole on Whidbey Island in Washington State. During these years, our father spent a lot of time aboard the USS Ranger off the coast of Japan. When we did see him, it was for brief stretches in cramped Marine-base housing. His head was shaved, his face smooth and clean, but he was a man who didn’t smile much, a man who seemed locked into a car on a road he didn’t want to be on. But then my father’s father died in 1963, and almost immediately after that Dad retired from the Marines as a captain and was accepted into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in Iowa City.

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