No flood today. It is Father’s Day and it is a time for celebrating. If you aren’t lucky enough to have good fathers in your life, then you can certainly nominate your own flood victims, but for me, today will be about appreciation, not complaining.
First, I have to give a shout out to my husband who is a great hands-on dad and partner in raising our children. I could go on about him (despite an earlier post entitled “taking care of the kids”) but because he is such a great man, I am sure he will understand that today, I want to celebrate my dad.
I remember sitting in my parents living room after my grandfather’s funeral with dozens of people sharing their memories of his life, most of which made us all smile, even laugh out loud, although a few made us cry. I remember thinking it was a beautiful thing to celebrate his life that way. I still do and I hope that type of activity happens at the passing of all of my loved ones, including my own.
But today, I want to take a minute and share some memories of my dad who is very much alive. After all, why wait until you lose someone to celebrate the joy they bring to your life.
One of my earliest memories of my dad is lying in bed listening to my father play “The Entertainer” on the piano while I was drifting off to sleep. I don’t honestly know if he ever mastered another song, but I do know it was better than any music box anyone could have given me. To this day I find comfort in that song.
I also find the scent of pipe smoke sweet and soothing because for my early childhood, my dad smoked a pipe. If I close my eyes and imagine myself in our den, him sitting in his chair in the corner, I can actually smell Sir Walter Raleigh in a can (and yes, I have heard that joke).
My father traveled a lot when I was little, and once I remember he had to miss my birthday. But I also remember sitting in our basement talking on an old fashioned black rotary phone to my father who had called from some country I hadn’t even heard of yet to make sure he wished his “precious angel” a very happy birthday.
When I was young, he also worked a lot. In addition to being gone every day until almost 8:00 at night, he had an office upstairs in our house. The rule was when that door was closed he was not to be disturbed. And I remember my father being in there with the door closed for entire weekends. He must have come out to eat or use the bathroom, but I wouldn’t see him. He worked that hard for our family. But I also remember weekends when he wasn’t shut in, we would have Saturday date day and he would take me somewhere just him and me. I remember the puppet theater and seeing the musical Annie, and meeting the dog from the show in the park outside the theatre.
I remember standing on my father’s shoes on the linoleum floor while we danced around the kitchen. He taught me the cha cha.
He also taught me how to play catch and was at all my softball games and swim meets, well maybe not all, but enough that I remember him being there as opposed to remembering him not being there. In fact, when I went to college and played softball for a school that was anything but athletic, where watching the games was such a far cry from my brother’s college baseball career that it must have seemed like watching little league or even the Bad News Bears, my father would leave his office and take the train over to our home field and watch me play, even though it was just for fun and I wasn’t very good.
Which reminds me, that when I first went to college two hours from home I hated it there and was incredibly home sick. Not only did my dad sit on the phone for hours with me listening to me cry, but he gave me good advice about how to make friends, told me I could come home, but insisted there would be no transferring to a closer school until I had worked a full year (a tough love deterrent from giving up so easily) and he even drove out a few times to take me to lunch or dinner. Now that I have my own children, I realize how heartbreaking it must have been to have your daughter calling you crying every day and not being able to fix it, but he did a lot to make it better.
I have so many memories of my dad because he has always been here for me. I couldn’t possibly share them all with you and what matters most to me may seem trivial to you. What is most important is that he has always been present in our lives and loved us unconditionally. I hope he know how much that means and how much I have learned from him about life in general and unconditional love specifically. Happy Father’s Day dad; I love you “all the bucks.”