Thursday, June 10, 2010

Remembering a Father...

      A Father’s day gift_

     When I think about my childhood, and remember you in the midst of it, I see four clear sets of pictures.
     In the first set, I hear you laughing. I hear the funny noises you make and I see you playing with us in the yard on warm summer nights. I remember how you taught me to catch fireflies, and how you hammered small holes into the lid of a miracle whip jar for me to keep them in. They became my bedside nightlight.
     I see you happy, smiling, and I understand clearly that my playful nature comes from you. I see us sprawled across the living room floor playing a board game, or playing cards around the kitchen table.
I hear you laugh aloud as you watch, “Rowan and Martin’s laugh-in” and “Hee Haw.” I remember how your laughter comforted me, how it settled my spirit. It made me happy.
     The next set of memories is of a Dad who fixes everything. My childhood is full of snapshots of you behind the washing machine, re-wiring electric sockets, putting in a ceiling fan. I see you under the hood of the car, and lying on the garage floor beneath it.
I remember the day we heard baby kittens crying inside the pantry wall, and being amazed that you knew right where to cut a hole to rescue them. They came out covered with drywall chalk. I remember the time the baby chicks caught on fire in the utility room, and how safe I felt because you were home and in control of the situation.
     We could count on you to take care of whatever needed taking care of. There was order and purpose to the things you did. You were reliable and trustworthy, and I always felt so safe because of that.
     I love the look and smell of fresh cut grass because of you. I remember the long bike rides I would take on summer nights up and down the streets of our neighborhood and remember how my heart swelled with comfort and pride as I headed home and our yard came into view. Our grass was always freshly edged, mowed and manicured. The nicest on the block, and I knew that you had given it the best of your care. And that care, spilled over onto me.
     I remember the time you found tomato worms on the plants in the backyard and took me out there to show me what they looked like so I could help you find them .We sat together for a while and watched the giant worm eat its way across a leaf and I was mesmerized. You showed me how to handle them and how they used their large thorn as a weapon. Then I watched you poke it with a stick and I saw it bend its back end over itself as it attacked the stick with its thorn. I remember being amazed. I could not stop watching it.
      I remember running out to check the plants, so excited, yet also freaked out, every time I found one.
     One night you came home from work and I had three of them trapped in a Miracle Whip jar. I remember you were proud of me.
     (We sure put those Miracle Whip jars to good use, huh?)
     The next set of memories comes from a Dad who loved sports. I do not remember how old I was when you played softball, but I have a clear memory of knowing that you were the pitcher and that that was quite a big deal. I remember your wind-up and how fast the ball flew from your hand. I remember standing around with some kids one night by the concession stand and saying proudly, “My Dad’s the pitcher.”
     I remember all the nights we spent at the bowling alley during your years in bowling league. There are smells and sounds buried deep inside me unique to that place. Every time I walk into a bowling alley, the sounds and smells take me back, and I remember. I watched you throw a bowling ball so many times, that I see it clearly if I close my eyes. I see the curve of your ball right before it hits the center pin to make a strike. You would do it over and over and I'd hear you, “Whoop,” and watch you do that funny little jig that always followed it.
     You sat in the recliner and I sat on the floor beside you while we watched John McEnroe, scream at Jimmy Connor’s on the tennis court.  How that entertained us.
    I learned about Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicholas’ golf stats, and I watched you sit on the edge of your seat as they made their putts.
     But my favorite was the boxing. It was Cassius Clay who sucked me in, but by the time Clay became Ali and fought Norton and Frasier, I was hooked. To this day, whenever I see a boxing match my blood pumps up a notch.
     You taught me how to throw a ball, (well, you tried to anyway) to swing a bat, (and boy did you smile when I pounded it.) You taught me how shoot a basket, ride a bike, roller skate and water ski.
     The last picture I have of you begins at the beginning and stays consistent throughout my childhood. This is the Dad in the suit who left in the morning, and came home every night at 5:30. This Dad provided for his family and was faithful and responsible every day of my childhood. Because of this, I felt safe, care for, loved and protected…
     So thank you Dad, and Happy Father's Day...I love you!

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