With today being Father’s Day, my thoughts turned to my dad. He’s been gone for over 20 years, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about him. I am the oldest of 3 girls. My parents divorced when I was 13, I went to live with my dad (my choice), when I entered high school. I’m glad I did.
A few memories – (before and after the divorce)…
- my parents instilled a great love of music in me — they listened to everything back in the day, which meant I listened to the same thing. Jazz however, was not my cup of tea and my dad knew it. One evening, my parents were listening to Wes Montgomery and my dad decided to move the speaker in front of my bedroom door. He cranked it really loud until I came running out of the bedroom. He was standing in the hallway, just laughing. We had a good laugh over that years later. In honor of my dad, I have a few selected “jazz” tunes on my iPod. Whenever they come on, I think of this and him. Always.
- my dad taught me how to dance the Lindy – a dance popular in his day. It was a hoot. He also taught me how to slow dance. When I was really little, I stood on his feet (what little girl doesn’t have that same memory?) and danced with him.
- when I was a Girl Scout, my dad helped me with the “Collector’s” badge. My dad was a coin collector. He helped me draw a map of the world and then let me search through all of his coins to fill in that map. I got my badge.
- when it was time to learn how to drive, my dad took me to a huge parking lot (where I could do little damage I suppose) and turned over his brand new Buick to me to practice. I was fortunate that I also had drivers education/training classes in school to help. When we arrived at the parking lot that very first time, I will never forget my dad getting into the passenger side, slightly turned, positioning himself with one hand on the dashboard, the other on the back of the seat and telling me what to do. Of course, he always had that “invisible” brake pedal to hammer to the floor when he thought I was going too fast. He had me drive in circles, forward and backward, and then he taught me how to park. Each time we got to the parking lot, he positioned himself the same way, until the last day before my driving test. That day, he got into the car and sat like a normal passenger, without the “invisible” brake pedal. I passed my driving test the first time around and got to drive home. He was very proud of me and told me so.
- when I was in high school, I wanted to surf. My dad actually bought me a surfboard and let me take his car to the beach at the crack of dawn. I was in heaven, he always worried.
- I was in theater arts in high school — drama, play production, stage crew, the whole nine yards. My dad was my biggest fan, even when I had one or two lines in a play or musical. There he would be, 10th row back watching me. I was always thrilled he chose to come to our productions. When I was inducted into the Thespian Society, the members always made a big deal on how they were going to surprise us. Generally, they snuck in, in the middle of the night and “snatched” us (pj’s and all). We would go to the restaurant that was always open 24 hours, we’d have breakfast and just have a great time. The members (and my Drama Teacher) had called my dad and he helped them plan everything. I had no idea and was genuinely touched. He was beyond thrilled — you should have seen his grin when they woke me up to surprise me.
- I remember my dad carrying me to the car and then into the hospital emergency room when I would hemorrhage (a girlie problem that plagued me for many years). He never panicked, never yelled. He would calmly talk to me (since I would be just this side of hysterical), gather me up and off we went. We did this a few times through high school.
- I remember the Sunday dinners where we would go out to our favorite restaurant and have a great meal – we’d talk about whatever grabbed us. We’d eat, laugh and just have a great time.
- I remember talking to my dad about marijuana (hey, I grew up in the 70’s, give me a break), alcohol and other related things. I remember saying to him that pot was something he’d never understand and his response was “do you think any of this is new? Your generation did not invent any of this!” Of course I thought he was wrong, but found out not too much later, how right he actually was.
- my dad always insisted that he meet every boy who planned on coming to the house — boyfriend or just friend. I was never allowed to “wait” outside if I was going out, the boy had to come to the house. He was old-fashioned about that.
- I remember going to the movies with my dad. I remember him taking me to see “Woodstock” and him walking out when Jimi Hendrix played the Star Spangled Banner. It would be a long time before I actually saw the movie in its entirety. I remember going to see “Romeo & Juliet” – I was a basket case when we left, his attitude was meh, but he “liked” the soundtrack, the “Bridge over Ramagen” however, was more to his liking and he said that after we saw the movie!
My dad never once talked bad about my mother (the same couldn’t be said for her) after their divorce or anytime when I was living with him. They had many conversations about how “she” wanted things to be. His take was I was living with him, not her and he would decide how things were going to be. I will forever be thankful he took that position and stuck to it.
Just before I graduated high school and moved across town, my dad remarried (she was not exactly happy he had a teenaged daughter). We became estranged for quite a few years until just before he passed when we reconnected and mended fences. I am glad we did. He was a good, kind man who would help you any way he could until you made him mad. Funny, I’m the same way.
Happy Father’s Day Daddy…