Here's something that appeared on Deadnet not too long ago...Some small details are inaccurrate. It's from a book that either was published or is about to be published-
The title of the book is Lessons From Our Fathers.
Bob Weir – Founding Member of the Grateful Dead
Both my natural and adopted fathers were military men. My adopted dad attended Annapolis for seven years and came out with the military equivalent of a doctorate in Engineering. When they gave him his first commission and put him out to sea he was seasick from the time he left port to the time he got back. It was so bad they had to put him in the hospital. Then he tried it again right at the beginning of World War II. He wanted nothing more than to serve his country but it just was not going to happen. He showed a lot of perseverance.
He was quite a guy. In fact, never in my presence did he ever use bad language. Rarely did I see him ever become angry, and it was not that he wasn’t a lively, energized person, he was just a consummate gentleman. He was born with three kidneys so he could drink all he wanted and was never affected. He did not drink much, but as far as getting a little buzzed, it was not a doable deal for him. I think one time my parents had a party and he was drinking pretty much all night and toward the end of the evening I may have seen a twinkle in his eye. That was about it.
My natural father was born and raised in the Tuscon, AZ area. He was 19 when he joined the Air Force and they put him behind the wheel of a bomber. He later became a test pilot and rose to the rank of Colonel. In fact, when he announced he was retiring, they offered him a Generalship but he declined because he had a son who was terminally ill.
My adopted parents passed on in 1972 from separate illnesses. My mom died on my dad’s birthday and a month later my dad died on my mom’s birthday. So you don’t argue with that kind of stuff. Then about ten years went by and I came home from a tour and it was my first night home and I was trying to sleep in. I had this very strange dream about my family home, my brother and a stillborn baby. And at the point of the dream where my brother and I pick up the baby and hold it, and each other, I was awakened by the phone ringing in real life. It was the Grateful Dead office calling to say there was a lady on the phone by the name of Phyllis who says she’s your mother and did I know anything about this. Apparently she had known for some time who I was and had tracked me, but had to sign a promise not to contact me while my adopted parents were still living.
I myself had actually done some research to try and find her but she pretty effectively covered her tracks. But I went and met her the next day and unfortunately we did not exactly hit it off – she had twelve other kids. So I could ascertain with a fair bit of ease that she didn’t really have a need for me in her life. But I kept in touch with her, called her on Mother’s day and over this time she gave me some information regarding my dad; his name and where she last saw him which at that point was 40+ years.
The story was that when she got pregnant she ran off to San Francisco without his knowing, and had me, and then came back but never let on that I existed. So he had no idea he had a son. When she told me who he was I had a private investigator track him down. It took all of an hour for him to find him. As fate would have it, it turned out he was the commanding officer at Hamilton Field, the local Air Force base in San Francisco. But because I am almost pathologically anti-authoritarian I figured this would not go well for either of us because it does not get much more authoritarian than the commanding officer of a military base. Then I just sat on the info for close to ten years. Finally I figured this guy’s not getting any younger, I guess I better just buck up and do this. But there was still some apprehension because I didn’t know what I was going to find. If my dad was an @#%$ what does that say about me? I just assumed that military officers chose that profession so they could boss people around. So I figured I had three choices for contact: I could write him a letter – but he might crumble it up and throw it away. I could go see him – but the last thing I wanted was for my first and only memory of my father watching him clutch his chest and fall over backwards. I decided to call him.
It was early evening the next day and I called and said
“I’m looking for John Parver,”
and he said “That would be me”
and I told him “well, I’m Robert Weir and I live in Mill Valley and I’ve been doing some research and have dug up some information that may be of considerable interest to you. But first I have to ask you a question or two.”
And he replied, “ok.”
And I continued, “ It concerns events that took place in Tucson about fifty years ago” and he said “ok” and then I asked “is it possible that you were romantically involved with a woman by the name of Phyllis?”
and he said “well, yes”
and so I told him “sir, in that case there’s a very strong likelihood that, even though I’m not sure how many children you have, but you may have one more than you know.”
This was followed by a long silence and then he said
“The only Robert Weir I know is the guy that sings and plays with the Grateful Dead.”
And I said “well sir, that would be me.”
So we arranged to meet the next day at a local restaurant of his suggestion which was coincidentally a favorite of both of ours, and we have become very, very close.
We both share a singular inability to take anything seriously or an ability to make light of pretty nearly any situation. The more time we spend together the more similarities I see and realize that the apple does not fall far from the tree. And even though I didn’t grow up with him, in many ways I am as much, if not more like him then is own sons.
On a weekly basis my family and I have been going up and staying with my father in Nevada where he now lives. We stay over for a night and each morning Grandpa cooks me and my family pancakes. Towards the beginning of this Towards the beginning of this year he and his wife Milenna began to leave a guitar out that belonged to his eldest son who tragically died of Spinal Cancer some time ago. He had been a professional musician in a fairly successful band and had a collection of guitars when he died that the remaining sons divvied up but because nobody really wanted this one it was left behind with his parents. They pulled it out of the closet and it was in a funky old case and it was just sitting in the corner of their home. Now I saw this case for a month of so and finally rose to the bait and opened it up and inside there was this beat up old Telecaster with one pickup kind of sprung out of it’s moorings and broken up a little. So after looking at it for two or three weeks I finally said, “okay, I’ll bite, can I take this to rehearsal with me and have my roadie / tech guy fix it up?” and they said “we thought you’d never ask.”
So I took it to him and he had it working in no time at all. And I plugged it into my rig (amplifier) at our first rehearsal for the tour. Now I had not even picked up a Telecaster in years, let alone played one, but I started playing it and from the first note it was obvious, for me, for the band, for everyone that the characteristically tin sound really was perfect and helped everything. It became my “A” guitar.
After no one wanting this guitar it fell out of the sky one me.
All of the family, as opposed to feeling forsaken, are really overjoyed at seeing a piece of their older brother and eldest son make it on the big stage.
The whole story is really a little bit of mysticism.
The lesson I learned from my new dad is confirming for me that fate follows in your footsteps so you need to have faith in your path and live life with a sense of wonderment..
9 hours ago