Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Faces of a Father's Love

Dad, Daddy, Wad, Papa these were all names that my dad answered to. And for the record WAD rhymes with DAD not sod, just wanted to clarify for those who don’t know. My dad was the instigator of nicknames and our family is rife with them. My oldest sister, Robin was Dude, Jennifer was Spud, Kat was Kasser-did and I was Tiger, Wiger, Mud, all of the above. J

Dad’s been gone since September of 2001, I still miss him so much and I want to take a moment to honor his memory.

My dad was a study in contrasts. His gruff exterior belied a soft and tender heart that wasn’t displayed to many; my mom always said that he developed that gruffness in order to protect his tender side. He was a un-believer for all of my childhood and he had a habit of holding people to very high standards, particularly if they were Christians. At that time he didn’t claim to be a Christian but one of his favorite songs of all time was “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.”

He loved music, motorcycles, card games, his family and cars and car parts, not necessarily in that order. He came from a family of ten kids, five boys and five girls. He had four daughters and never had a son, I think I was the closest he got to that in my own tomboy way.

My dad's family, he is top far left half hidden.

 Dad had a succession of shops over the years. When we still lived on North Shore Drive he had the “little garage.” While I was still young he built the “big garage” (we have improved our building naming skills since then…) that was roomy enough for three vehicles, all his tools and sundry car parts, a large desk and work benches galore. He had a man cave before it was trendy. The final, not to mention largest shop came when my parents moved to Lakewood Lane where Dad eventually built the shop of his dreams. It was 36x­­­­­­48 and held more cars and parts than was sane but he loved it and spent time in it every single day. In fact, when I was a kid I am pretty sure he hid out in whatever shop was current to avoid the inevitable ruckus that seemed to follow me around.

 Dad really came into his own after he retired. He spent 30 years working at Intalco because it was a good job, certainly not because he loved it. Once he retired he was able to putter around in his shop with his much loved cars, make the rounds for coffee with all his buddies, play cards with the grandkids and we even got him to go to garage sales for a while! His entire personality blossomed and softened as he grew older. He would burst into song at random moments. He would call me up and say, “Is this the Ranch? This is Geneva calling, we thought we would come out and see you guys.” I guess what I am trying to say is that a degree of spontaneity appeared that I had never really seen before.

My daddy
The following are memories from my sisters.

Robin remembers:  Dad walking out to the shop every day, ever so carefully carrying his red plastic cup full of coffee. Another of her memories is of dad bursting into my Everett house wearing the ever-present red Snap-on jacket and being all smiles.

Jennifer remembers: In 1969 when I went away to attend college at Biola, at the age of 17 I discovered how far away southern California is from Washington! It’s hard to describe what being homesick is like, but if you’ve ever been homesick you know exactly what I mean. I didn’t have two plug nickels to rub together, so a trip home wasn’t in the offing. Somehow, the homesick blues struck a chord in my dad’s heart; he always was a sucker for melancholic music, so I must’ve sung the blues pretty good. Mom was normally the letter writer but this time I got a note from dad. It was pretty short but it said it all. He wanted me to come home and a Greyhound bus ticket was included. He was never demonstrative or even verbal about his love for us kids, but this demonstration of his love is one I will never forget.

Kat remembers: His face lighting up when he smiled (not the toothpaste smile) and his laughter when he was really tickled by something said or done. He truly loved his grandkids. He let Brandon to stay with them when I was hospitalized. He polished my red Chrysler with TLC; I truly believe he loved keeping his classics pristine! Do you remember him polishing chrome for the Packard?
He loved and cared for each of us in his own way.
Singing with the country music, and singing when we were all together.
He brought Russel B into our lives and Russ became family.
Riding in the corvette with dad out and around the lake; speed on! I loved it.
He taught us to ride the 90 motorcycles.
Teaching Mel to ride a bike, no matter that she crashed the first time on her own when she realized dad was not there.Who taught me to ride? I have no memory of who it was.
His beautiful caring of mom; sometimes putting his foot down when he thought mom was taking on too much.
He was there when I lost Camdon.
How his relationship with mom grew through difficult times.Bickering with Mom; it was so funny to hear; you know what I mean.

This is just free flow of my thoughts as they come to mind.
He understood about my divorcing Bill and he supported of me.
4- Wheeling with dad when we were kids; I don't remember how many times this might have been, but I loved it. Teaching us how to shoot; busting my shoulder out when he had me try a rifle.
PLAYING CARDS; teaching us cribbage.Smear with mom and dad, smear at grandpa and grandma's house.Double deck pinochle, I learned by watching. And I play a mean hand of pinochle now!
It strikes me that anything I did with dad was a pleasure; maybe because we didn't have all that much time with him?
Camping in Canada with mom and dad; we played a lot of cribbage!
Financial help while I was going back to school to complete my RN. Don't know if this was mom behind it or not, but the checks were always written by dad, and once he even sent me a letter! Still have it. Memories.
Buying the blue bronco from dad. I loved that rig. Big sound, big power, ooh la la! Amazing, I bought 3 different vehicles from him.
Meeting dad, just to see him when he drove bus. We saw very little of him when he was driving bus.

Seeing his face for the last time.

*End sister’s remembering.*

As has been pointed out, my dad wasn’t particularly demonstrative but I never for one moment doubted his love. One of the hardest days of my life was the day I had to see his face for the last time. I never got to say good-bye.

We were raised with classic country music as part of the tapestry of our lives so I have included a video of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire. Enjoy.