Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dad

I don't often re post, but it's Father's Day and I want you to know my Dad.  He passed away in 1995 at the tender age of 70. Here is an excerpt from "Red and Bernie" that I wrote as a tribute to he and my friend Peg's Dad in 2010. Surely your memories of your father are worth writing about too.

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My Mom would say that I have a very childlike, idyllic hero worship of my Dad, and she's probably right. But who cares? My memories of Red are as sweet and nostalgic as the oak-laden countryside where I grew up. We jokingly called him Dudley as we aged because of his ability to do anything, make anything, fix anything. Hence, most of my memories of him have building and creating themes - "Dudley can do it!" I remember sitting in the driveway next to a greasy canvas covered with valve stems, rocker arms, nuts and bolts, watching him carefully clean the parts in a can of gasoline. I couldn't put an engine together to save my life, but I know what a head gasket is. I used to brag that I could skin a deer, but Mom's right - that would be a slight exaggeration, even though I do know how to wield a hunting knife fairly well.


My Dad built roads all over California. It took him away most of the weekdays of the dry summers, leaving Mom to be the disciplinarian. So when the weekend finally came, I was the first one to wake to the smell of Dad's frying bacon. Our memories are powerfully linked to our sense of smell, and to this day I love to cook bacon on a Saturday morning. I can't drive buy a field of fresh mown hay without opening the window to take in the earthy warmness and remember hours of driving a tractor in circles with a baler in tow...or walking through a mountain meadow and rustling the skunk weed without thinking about camping trips without a tent under the stars.


Today, I putter in my wannabe garden of three tomato plants and two zucchinis, a pathetic tribute to the memory of a half-acre maze of corn, tomatoes and every kind of vegetable that I, along with my siblings, were made to weed. Dad would brag at dinner that everything we were eating was grown in our garden or raised in the barn. I credit him with my love of eating good food, despite the fact that he made my mother cook his vegetables to a frazzle. But even my foodie friend Peg would acknowledge that green beans cooked on the stove for three hours with bacon still invoke a warm, comfortable feeling of "home" - Martha probably cooked them for Bernie that way too.


I can conjure up flashbacks to wood cutting days in the Fall with buzz saws and brush fires and enjoy them as much as Summer evening rides in the back of a Chevy pickup over to Dad's old ranch a few miles away. I can picture my Dad laying on the lawn on a hot summer evening with a piece of grass dangling from his mouth, laughing at his uncles' bad jokes and tall stories. Red could tell a joke better than anyone, and that's probably why I love to laugh.


Granted, my memories sound idyllic and childlike, and probably not altogether accurate, but I cherish them never the less. Some country singer wrote a song about "Daddy's Hands", and amazingly, that's one of the things I remember more vividly than anything else about my father. I guess that's because he used them in so many ways, his whole life was carved into their freckled, gnarled fingers. Thankfully,I don't have my Dad's hands. And truthfully, my hair only had a hint of his red. In fact, I am my Mom all over again - her eyes, her mouth, her skin. But I love that I am Red's daughter, through and through. It isn't June 20th yet, Happy Father's Day anyway, Dad.

Laurel. Happy Father's Day to all my blogging friend who are Dads.

4 comments:

  1. What an amazing tribute to someone who touched your life so much and still does.

    We have much in common.

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  2. Thanks Gail...and I figured we do when I read your posts! Have a good day!

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  3. Your dad sounds like a great guy. In my opinion there are few gifts greater than the gift of laughter he passed on to you.

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  4. Auntie, thank you for the post. I am going to forward it to Jim, who wishes he had met Grandpa Red. I think those two would have been thick as thieves. I hadn't realized how much I missed him. Thank you and Love, Sam

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Thanks for visiting my blog. I appreciate all those who share and leave their comments very much. Laurel

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