Fathers and Sons

June 3, 2012

Monte passed away three years ago on June 3, 2009 and because it is close to Father’s Day, this post will be related to Monte’s role as a Father.

When describing Monte’s parenting methods, the most concise description would be they fell under a form of laissez faire parenting.  This is not to claim his role as a parent was absent or lacking, nor abusive, but to describe it in a way as that of “sink or swim.”

Early on when Kathy and Eric were small children, Monte did exhibit more disciplinarian methods in child rearing, which included spankings and whippings with a belt, but these later relaxed.  When living at the Big Lake house, when the Monte Ellis family would travel to John and Zelma’s Monterey home, sometimes when Kathy and Eric misbehaved they were not immediately disciplined.  For a period of time, on the return trip to Big Lake, Monte would inform his children if they had been good or bad and if one, or both, had been bad, then discipline would be dealt out upon their arrival at the Big Lake house.  On the drive back to Big Lake, each child would worriedly ask their father if they had been good or bad in anticipation of discipline.  Years later, Sharyl told her children she felt this choice of discipline by Monte was very cruel and caused many fights between the two of them before it was no longer used.

Possibly because of his relationship with his own father, or even due to his emerging beliefs in Darwinism, Monte’s role did not involve nurturing discussions or many words of advice.  It may even be he chose to be a somewhat removed parent because of the predominate view of child rearing during this era.

Other than that of boxing, he also was not overly fond of athletics, therefore, he did not encourage his children to participate in formal athletics.

Times when Monte chose to toss around a football or baseball with his children are hard to recall and later, not only did a female family friend buy Eric his first baseball glove, but his Uncle Jared taught Eric how to ride his first bicycle.

When a younger man, Monte did exhibit a powerful temper, most often revealed by the throwing of objects.  Also, like many men, he did not show outward signs of affection unless plied by drink. Still, to mention such negative things, does not mean positive aspects of his parenting did not exist.

In some ways, it might be even fair to suggest Monte was a better parent toward his children when they grew older.

One of Monte’s more frustrating quirks was when asked a question, he would answer when he wanted to.  Often, the person asking the question would think he had not heard the question and repeat it, only to be told the question had been heard and he was thinking.  Monte was also a grand procrastinator.  But even with that, sometimes he would take his time to methodically accomplish what he sought out to do so the end result would be correct, while others thought he was just being slow.

One aspect of his personality was he enjoyed to be provocative and through his use of alcohol, often times his methods could be quite sharp and at times misunderstood, but never boring.

There is no doubt Monte enjoyed his alcohol.  It played a large role throughout his lifetime.  Both good things and bad things resulted from his use of alcohol.  Alcohol to Monte was both a smirking devil and a dancing angel.  Not only did it shorten his life, but most likely, also lengthened it.  Many times he would profess alcohol allowed him to dream and prodded him to be more creative.  He also would opine how it freed his mind and put him in a special state.  Alcohol also dulled his pain.  The pain of the loss of his daughter, his wife and his observations of man’s treatment and destructive, one-sided relationship with the natural world.

Some may scoff at such claims, but for those that do, they simply do not comprehend how deeply Monte felt toward the natural world, it’s many creatures, animal, insect, water, air and plant.  Nor that of his complex relationship with his family.

Some may even say alcohol could turn him into a mean bastard; but he was my bastard.