A Fathers Day Reblog

Homage to Brandy – the most amazing man I never knew

Happy Fathers Day!

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections Post

The quick intro

I wrote the following post about a year after my father’s death, honoring what was inarguably a most incredible life.  I just wish I’d known more about it!

Interestingly, I have had reason to refer to this post several times in the past month alone, so I’m taking the nudge to reblog it for anyone else interested.

I’m hoping that it will encourage any of you lucky enough to still be able to speak with your parents to pester them for answers to those questions that still remain.

PARENTS: If your adult children do not really know you
– and you, them – what on earth on you waiting for?


My father was born today . . .

Although he was a difficult man to know, and a very tough man to grow up with, I adored him every bit as much as I railed against many of his actions and decisions throughout my life.

And I never doubted for a minute that he loved me very much.

It’s just that he had such an unusual way of showing love – almost as if the most loving thing he believed he could do was to protect those he loved from the cares and responsibilities that he thought were his alone to bear.

And, to Brandy, life itself was a responsibility. So his life seemed always cloaked in secrecy.

He made his world debut on November 20th, in Toledo, Ohio – approximately 90 years before his swan song. He shuffled off his mortal coil in October, 2012, the third loss of someone close to me that I was forced to find some way to deal with in that month.

  • Coming to closure has been a particularly difficult task – for a few reasons besides the grief that most of us experience after the death of our last remaining parent.
  • I’m still attempting to come to grips with the fact that
    I no longer have a shot at ever getting to know the man.

I believe I can now relate to the adoptee urge to locate their birth-parents. We all seem to have an innate yearning to know our roots, and most of us want to know and understand our own personal histories.

  • My sister was into genealogy.
  • I would be more than content to know the truthful and even minimally fleshed-out stories of the members of my immediate family circle.

Since my father’s death, I’m coming to believe that I am nowhere close to fulfilling that desire.

Remembering what I know

“Brandy,” the man who died about a year ago as I write, was a retired military scientist. He may or may not have had undiagnosed, extremely high-functioning Asbergers.

He most certainly was a man who was incredibly gifted intellectually with, shall we say, less than top-notch intimacy and connection skills – even though he was otherwise one of the most universally competent individuals I’ve ever met, and fairly universally liked.

  • His Ph.D. project, under the advisorship of Albert Einstein and Edwin H. Land, was to develop a camera with a lens that had a shutter speed capable of photographing the first atomic bomb flash.
  • At least that’s how the story was told to me.
  • I was also told that somewhere among the photographs I have requested as one of the few things I wanted my brother to send me from my father’s “estate,” is a photo of me as a baby: that particular camera’s first human subject.

Amazing, right?

It was quite an outside-the-box feat of engineering to solve that concentrated flash-of-light problem, given what the intensity of the bomb flash was likely to do to any film stock possible with the technology of the time.

A sequence of rapidly rotating polarized lenses, anyone?

Those who are paying attention have probably also suspected that, even as a Ph.D. candidate, he must have held one of our country’s highest security clearances to know there was going to BE a “first atomic bomb flash.”

He did.

And everyone knew him as Brandy

His legal name was Millard Earl Griffith, by the way. You really can’t blame him for deciding to keep the nickname given to him by one of the “regular” barmaids serving the libation rounds when he was in college, I believe, or shortly afterwards.

“You’re the scotch, you’re the gin, you’re the beer, and you’re the Brandy.”

BrandyDecanterSometime his friends jokingly used “the” as part of his name, but it was many years before I got up the nerve to ask him why.

That was his drink of choice back then – and has been mine for many years now. Even though he was the one who gifted me with my cherished crystal brandy decanter, I can’t recall ever toasting each other over a snifter of brandy.

He also made a mean hot buttered rum – yet only once did he make them for the two of us to drink together.

In his later years he had moved on to bourbon – Old Crow – which had something to do with a group of WWII fighter pilots who still kept in touch, identifying themselves by that name.

Many of them went on to pioneer the space industry, as did my dad — and became card carrying members of The Old Crow Chapter of the Turtles
(and yes, “You bet your sweet ass I am” — get your minds out of the gutter!)

So now you know almost as much about his life as I do, and almost more about me than I know about him.

Please don’t misunderstand the place that alcohol played in Brandy’s life – or in mine. Although it seems that my lineage is one of the white-Anglo-Saxon-Protestents who came over on the Mayflower, we’re really not of the five o’clock cocktail drinking WASP persuasion. It’s simply one of the few things I know about him at all.

Military Secrets . . .

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

117 Responses to A Fathers Day Reblog

  1. Pingback: Sound Sensitivity and Sensory Integration | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. A great tribute to an amazing person; the more I read about your father, the more impressed I am with some of your inherited traits.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. daisymae2017 says:

    Interesting Read. I hope everyone takes time to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great post, a great tribute, a great man. Wow one can see the apple with all its spender did not fall far from the tree. Thank you for once again sharing your world.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. John Fioravanti says:

    Thanks for sharing this post, Madelyn – I wasn’t around when it was published originally. I have regrets around not knowing much about my parents personally. I believe that their generation played it pretty close to the chest where their kids were concerned. I often wonder how well my parents knew my grandparents.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our grandparents generation was a product of the “children should be seen and not heard” point of view – so probably not a lot of authentic bonding resulted from that (except sibling to sibling).

      After birth control became fairly reliable, I wonder why people wanted to have kids if they didn’t intend to get into close relationship with them. A hormonal yearning? People like babies and little kids but not once they begin to become “real people” ???

      IMHO, both sides miss a lot to remain distant.

      Thanks for reading, John.


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