Today is Father’s Day. This year, my dad will be gone for 30 years. Every day, I still miss him. Here’s some reasons why.
My dad was a reader. Maybe I didn’t say that right… I mean a READER. He’d read enormous paperbacks overnight (James Michner enormous). I don’t read as much now as I used to… I’m too busy pretending to clean. But as a kid, I was always reading. Remember “summer reading lists”? I obliterated mine. I remember taking my peanut butter sandwich into the old army blanket I used as a “tent” and reading over the summer.
Daddy used to take me, on his occasional Saturdays off, on errands. I most vividly remember going to the Chinese laundry (where they had a minah bird), the drive through car wash, and… “for lunch” with his buddies. I just loved it. He used to introduce me as his “eldest unmarried”. I was both — his eldest and unmarried.
When my dad had his hip surgery (back in the olden days — the mid 70s), he spent a lot of time at home recuperating. He took up Solitaire. But noooooo Solitaire wasn’t good enough for MY daddy. Nope. He taught me Double Solitaire. I’d come home from school, or finish my homework and he’d be ready for Double Solitaire. I did occasionally dread the sight of the deck of cards. Not really, but just about. I guess secretly I liked spending the extra time with him. See, Daddy was a policeman and worked shifts: 8-4, 4-12 or 12-8. There were times we’d be leaving for school and he’d be coming home from work and heading to bed. And he didn’t have regular weekends off, so sometimes, his days off would be a Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday. When we were at school.
(When I was the editor of the yearbook my senior year in college, I was running late for a deadline and daddy helped me stamping the photos for the spots they were to be placed in. If you look at the picture on top right of page 71 you can see one of the stamps on Dr. Mortola’s head. Dad had stacked the photos after stamping them, and the ink hadn’t dried yet!) My dad knew I needed help though, and he was there to do what he could.
When I lived in Arizona, he used to write me letters. They consisted of about 8 sentences and usually included a nice $20 bill. “Don’t tell your mother… go buy yourself dinner or a dress.” I think she knew.
I loved the show St. Elsewhere. William Daniels has long been a favorite of mine. William Daniels had a mustache. My father decided to grow one. Here it is in a photo. Apparently one morning he forgot he had a mustache and shaved half of it off. So, the other half had to go too. (I must like this pic… I used it last year too!) LOL!
I loved Christmas tree shopping with my dad. We were the two who were always looking for “the perfect tree”. In the olden days, they didn’t shear the trees and they were irregularly shapes, and had gaping holes. Though we always considered the one we selected to be PERFECT. I remember traipsing from lot to lot in the freezing cold looking for a better tree. Dad’s other job at Christmas was setting the tree up (and tying it at the top to 2 nails in the upper woodwork so it wouldn’t fall over on the dog or little children) and putting on the lights. Then, depending on his schedule, he’d either go to sleep and leave the rest to us, or sit in his chair (you know, the DAD chair) and direct.
When my brother and reached a certain age — where we could appreciate the sights we’d be seeing, I guess — we would spend a week making little trips — Mystic Seaport, the Amish country, Philadelphia, Washington, DC. The Amish country and Washington were the two most memorable because of Dad. Our trip to the Pennsylvania Dutch country in rural PA consisted of driving past signs for tourist traps. We ended up at Hershey, PA, where we found a comfortable motel, and my father threatened to drop Nestles wrappers around town. We almost didn’t get to see our nation’s capital. It was absolutely imperative that our motel had a pool. Without a pool, we might as well have been crossing the prairie in a covered wagon. When finally in Washington, we walked for miles and miles and miles looking for a restaurant that served REAL turkey, not turkey roll. Fortunately, turkey is also one of MY favorite foods of all time.
In the summer, it was MY job to make the iced tea before Daddy got home from work. We had a recipe: FILL the tea kettle with water and bring to a boil. Use 10 Lipton’s tea bags, 1/4 cup of sugar and the juice of 3 freshly squeezed lemons (that was the part I disliked the most). It needed to be chilled by dinner. But it was the best iced tea I ever tasted!
I could go on and on with memories of my dad. If you want to know more, read last year’s Father’s Day post.