Let me tell you about my dad. My dad was the youngest of 6 with 4 older brothers and a sister. They were raised during the depression with a spirit of resourcefulness, humor, lots of love, and a definite sense of honor and discipline. My dad raised us that way too.
Dad said he met my mother at a bust stop and he knew she was the girl for him. He was tall and gawky so it’s sort of a miracle my pretty mother paid any attention at all to him. But she did. That was some 50 plus years ago. We were all just home in Wisconsin to celebrate their anniversary. Our Dad was what most kids dream of for a daddy. He was fun, and inventive, and that’s important when you don’t have that much materially. We looked at old family pictures last weekend and our favorites with the most memories were the ones where Dad was giving us a ride on a shovel, or pulling us in a wagon down to the dump to see what we could find. Or, the pictures of us hanging out together riding on a skooter made of a fruit crate and roller skates, or swinging from swings made from a hunk of wood and a rope. We all had bikes too, and we rode in a long line all around town. The youngest sat in the huge basket on Dad’s bike and off we’d go to take a bike ride.
We all learned the fine art of puttering from our dad and we all have our stuff “filed under H” for hammer, or “N for nob” and it’s no surprise we all like plenty of stuff. Dad likes stuff and saves everything in case we will need it. Ruthanne’s basement is a mere shadow of my father’s but his IS neater, it has to be. We drove all the way home with a car load full of dad’s stuff. The only thing I don’t know what the heck I will do with is a big carved wooden salad fork. I digress.
We all learned to whistle a tune and be in constant state of hum or song because of my dad. He whistled along to the radio and along with whatever my mother was playing on the piano. We also had a very specific family whistle. My dad can softly whistle in a store or other place and we all know to make haste and meet. Or when we were kids, Dad whistled for us to come home from the 5 corners of the earth we were at, his whistle could be heard blocks away, even cornfields away.
My tall father was the best at horsey rides too. He’d crawl around on the floor with one or two of us on his back and we monkey piled and tickled into a giggling mass of arms and legs. All likely just before bedtime giving my mother a conniption fit because we were supposed to be winding down, not up. Dad’s lap was big so we fit nicely for a story or just to be held.
Dad taught us to “move with authority,” to say please and thank you, yes sir and no sir, to not worry about what we were wearing because “a man on a flying horse would never stop to look.” And, when you start a nail, first tap the end so it doesn’t split the wood. Oh, and did you know that inside a spay can is probably quite a nice marble? My dad knows a lot of stuff and he’s the one we always call when disaster strikes. He can fix most everything, or knows where togo to get it done. And, some of you may remember, he is also the Dumpster King.
Our family is big and loud and tall, and last week we all attended church together just like the old days. Of course we all had our own families with us and we sat right up front, all 23 of us now, as the priest read a blessing from the Pope for our parents. I peeked around and filled with love and pride at what a lovely family we all are. Later Dad said he would have like to have all of us stand with them. I told him, we were, and we always will.
My own husband is a lovely father and so are my brothers and my brothers in law. They have amazing children to show for it too. A good father is such a blessing to a child and I am grateful for the job they all have done. Being a good father makes being a good mother easy, and for that especially, I am grateful. We are all lucky to have such a terrific example.
Thanks Dad, I love you.
Posted Sunday, June 20, 1999 on the Garden Party Forum,