In honor of my dad

Posted 6/12/24

A day to celebrate fathers is approaching. My dad has passed on...but it is comforting to recall pleasant memories of him, and appreciate his good qualities. We traveled 6 months out of the year when …

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In honor of my dad


A day to celebrate fathers is approaching. My dad has passed on...but it is comforting to recall pleasant memories of him, and appreciate his good qualities. We traveled 6 months out of the year when I was young, due to my dad›s wanderlust. When traveling, we often had pastry and donuts to eat and appease his sweet tooth. For mealtimes, he would always try to park the conversion van near a playground or community pool so my brother and I could run around and get some exercise. He was considerate like that.

My dad was not a «people person,» and generally did not care about his appearance. His usual outfit was a pair of brown shorts and a maroon work t-shirt. He had false teeth, which he rarely wore, housing them in the top pocket of his t-shirt. (More than once I saw them fall out into a campfire he was tending. He would snatch them up quickly and place them back in his pocket for safekeeping.) This one outfit is permanently fixed in my mind, and it was not surprising that they had to literally rip it off him when he was hospitalized for a heart attack.

My dad treated my mom like a queen, often telling her he loved her while holding and kissing her hand. He would do anything for her, and her face would light up with happiness when he complimented and adored her. They had a wonderful relationship. They met before World War II, when my mom volunteered at singles dances for soldiers at the armory. She chastely danced with all the soldiers, pulling the shy ones from the sidelines and joyfully jitterbugging with them. She met her match in my dad, who, dressed in a suit and tie, could match her step for step. They became engaged before the war.

The man who came home from the war was not the same jitter-bugging, handsomely dressed guy, but mom did not care. They married and she cautiously joined him on his rambling road trips. After my brother and I were born, we assimilated into the traveling life style, and such was life. It seemed normal to me.

We often camped by a river, where my brother and I would sit and play. He enjoyed stacking the smooth stones from the water in front of him. We were often captivated by live creatures like pollywogs and tiny shrimp, which we would temporarily house in a nearby pail for closer observation. We encountered plenty of wildlife, including moose and deer. There was also that memorable incident at Yellowstone Park when a bear climbed onto our picnic table to eat our dinner. My father swiftly grabbed my brother just as he was about to leave the van to get his Cracker Jacks, which were on the same table.

My dad was socially unable, or was just plain disinterested, in attending any social or school events, so it seemed normal for me to just see my mother›s smiling face in the audience. We did run into some issues when I got married because he did not want to attend the event.  My mom convinced him he needed to attend, although he refused to wear a tuxedo.  I did get him to change out of his maroon t-shirt into a suit jacket that matched the tuxedos, which he promptly doffed once he had a few drinks in him.  

I was lucky to have had such a father, who expanded my horizons from an early age. Were I raised in a traditional family, I never would have experienced such a care-free, traveling lifestyle.  We visited more than 30 states, including Alaska and Hawaii.  I learned the wonders of the natural world and did not get caught up in the latest television shows or music. I saw a baby deer born, and a bear ate my dinner. My brother and I became bonded, and I learned about the acceptance of individuals with disabilities, the very basis for my life. 

Dad, Happy Father›s Day, up in heaven with mom! I can still picture you holding her hand and giving her kisses, and her coyishly smiling in return.  It was a wonderful childhood!


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