I’m thinking about you today, sifting through pictures, reaching back, oh so far, for the smallest memory. Not that I don’t think about you every day. Both of you.
Remember all the great trips you took us on every summer?
I went camping up north a couple weeks ago. I thought of you as I put up my spiffy modern tent alone. Remember the big heavy green canvas tent we all camped in? How it took forever and more than a few hands to get it up? How it smelled like wet tent when it rained and you told us not to touch the walls or it would leak? Remember how we used to fall exhausted into sleeping bags scratchy with sand every night after full days at the beach? How we roasted all those marshmallows over the fire and you ate the our burned ones? Those were the days.
I remember, too, how you could fix anything.
I don’t know how you learned the way everything worked and how to make it work again when it broke. But you did. We’ve been using the tools in your workshop to fix things around the lake house. Seems like you had one of just about everything. And we keep finding little notes like the one written on a stud in the garage about when the driveway was last sealed or the house stained. In fact we found the can of house stain you left for us, labeled by you, so we were able to paint that new fascia board to match.
And did you see I retired this month? I’m not sure how you reacted to that because I’m still pretty young.
I remember when we were kids how you’d come across us sitting around somewhere and you’d ask us what we were doing. We knew we better come up with something because if we didn’t you’d have some chore waiting. I was thinking about that this week when I spent two whole days doing absolutely nothing. That felt kind of uncomfortable. I guess I was expecting you to show up and ask me what I was doing. Napping never seemed like a good answer in those days, but I’m hoping you understand. I’m thinking you probably do.
And remember how you used to read the Sunday comics to us, even when we were old enough to read them ourselves?
You read a lot of stuff to us, guess that’s how I turned into a reader. And a story teller. I wouldn’t mind hearing you tell one of your stories one more time now. We sure laughed around the dinner table a lot growing up didn’t we? Back then I didn’t know all families weren’t like that. I just figured laughing until our sides hurt and the tears ran down our faces was typical at dinner tables across the country. Turns out not to be true, but I’m glad it was that way at our house.
Remember all those family portraits we took? How we’d gather in one spot, get ourselves all arranged, and then you’d set the timer on the camera and rush back to get into position before it went off? How so often it wouldn’t go off at all and you’d go back to figure out why, and then it would flash? How we used to laugh.
This is one of my favorite pictures. Not because it was perfect, or we were perfect but because of the laughter. Even though half of us were sick with the flu that day we couldn’t help but laugh because this was just so typical of us.
Anyway, I guess I could go on, turn this into a long eloquent thank you speech, but you were never so much about long speeches. You were more about doing. Judging from the photos and notes on Facebook (do they have Facebook in heaven?) there are an awful lot of very special dads up there with you. I was thinking maybe you could organize a dad’s club of some kind, maybe go around and fix stuff for people. But then again, there’s probably not a lot of stuff that needs fixing there.
So I guess you’ve earned a nap. The best you can do is watch over all of us and give us a sign now and then that you’re around. Maybe point us in the right direction when we’re looking for something in your workshop.
You taught us good Dad and we’re getting by, all of us, day by day. But it sure is hard.