Hopefully fathers don’t come and go, and are there for life. My Dad gave me a great gift, to believe in myself and what I could be and do.
I talked to him today and he’s in the midst of many endeavors. He took up painting at age 80 and I’ve had the pleasure of framing and hanging several works. My greatest work of art was at age five, in crayon, of the characters from The Wizard of Oz. It’s my husband’s favorite so I framed it for his office. I can’t draw or paint but given an expert eye I’m great at framing.
All the kids in the neighborhood would call on him after dinner every summer night and we’d play baseball or touch football in the street. The rules were everyone plays, and no-one gets hurt. I miss that street and all our neighbors.
As a college President, he took me to see colleges. I chose one and paid 1/3 of my tuition, an institution that suited me. I’ve a few dear friends and professors, some who’ve passed.
For a couple of summers I was tasked to write his intros, five a day, introductory speeches for lecturers, artists et al. He’d read them if he had to, but I knew he’d riff off them and that he did to my delight. He even danced with Ginger Rogers as she came on stage. She danced backwards, in high heels, of course.
He built a table, almost Shaker style, of plywood and 4X4’s for our dining room. The buyers, who have lived there over forty years, demanded that the table be in the contract. We had no-where else to put it so that was a go. I’ve yet to go back and visit but we’ve driven by.
Dad built us beds. As we stripped 13 layers of wallpaper off our bedroom wall with a heavy steamer, we were given permission to choose another wallpaper. It was the seventies, everyone had wallpaper. We chose a silver foil with white and yellow geometric shapes. It was a pain to hang. Dad made us bed frames in the yellow from 2X12’s and painted the lamps his father crafted yellow to go with the theme. We added faux fur white bedspreads and he let us do it.
As an adult, he was instrumental in allowing me to meet people and make a career, a life and his lifelong energy and teachings led me to be a volunteer as well. If you want to volunteer, try a feral cat spay/neuter clinic. I did for six years. It’s not for everyone. Guess what, my knowledge of life according to Dad? I went to Trader Joe’s just to tell them we were in the parking lot out back for a few hours and hoped it wasn’t a burden. I bought a bottle of water while chatting and a half hour later they were out there with free water, sodas and muffins. It’s a gift. That’s Dad.
I talked to Dad today. This is not a eulogy in any way. He’s got an exciting and terrific life. How much he means to me and the need for kids to get their butts in gear and respect their parents is what I convey, today. Cheers! Dee