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Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Tribute to My Dad


"There's something like a fine gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself."    

~John Gregory Brown, Author

"Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope." 

~Bill Cosby, Comedian

"It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was." 

~Anne Sexton, Author


Today, my father celebrated forty years working for the same company.  Forty years of showing up for work every day, working hard for those he loved, doing a good job with a good attitude and I never once heard him complain.

My Dad Leonard (where I get my middle name 'Len')

My dad and mom divorced when I was in third grade, so he wasn't always there when I came home.  But he was always there.  He worked hard and provided for us.  My sister and I always knew he loved us, and wanted the best for us. 

I have good memories of my father when I was growing up.  He is a really funny man.  When I think back on the little things, they always make me smile:

When I was young I remember he pulled up to a stopsign at the corner of Tuxedo Blvd. and Madison Ave.  He opened his door, and closed it again, and being curious as always, I asked him "Why did you do that?"  He convinced me that the letters on the stopsign meant "STop...OPen your door...and close it."  I still think of that day when we drive past that corner.

Whenever we asked Dad where he got something he always said, "At the getting place."

Dad always had several decks of cards around his apartment.  We played lots of Spades and Canasta.  I remember one deck of cards that was HUGE!  Another was very tiny.  He had decks with his initials on the backs, a deck where the cards were circles, and another where the cards were triangles.  He had so many strange decks, and we loved to play with them.  Last week I was shopping and I found three decks of cards.  One was shaped like a surfboard, one like a lighthouse, and one like a Tiki.  My husband gave me a weird look when I put them in the shopping cart, but I had to have them.  They reminded me of Dad.

We still play cards when we get together.  Some things never change.

My dad could stack 25 quarters on his elbow, and flip them all into his hand.

He could squirt water through his hands and hit my sister and I anywhere in the swimming pool.

Dad always rode a motorcycle when I was young.  I remember when he had a cast on his leg, wrapped it in plastic bread bags and rode his motorcycle to work in the snow.

My dad loved to take the boat out to the lake and go fishing.  I remember one summer we went out and spent hours catching catfish.  Another time we went frog-gigging.  (If you're a city-folk you might have to google that term.  Here's a tutorial.)  And one day I still remember.  We spent the day on the lake in the boat.  My sister and I finally talked Dad into letting us swim, though we didn't have our suits.  We jumped over the side of the boat in our t-shirts and cut-offs, and splashed and laughed.  It was so much fun.  At some point late in the day, the boat wouldn't start back up, and we had to paddle to shore.  Then we had to walk around the lake, in the dark, to the place where our truck and trailer were parked.  As our flashlights lit the way, the air was cool, and we were freezing in our wet clothes, but we had a great time.

I remember waking up with my sister on a saturday morning at dad's apartment and making scrambled eggs for the three of us.  I don't remember if the eggs were even edible or not, but Dad always seemed to enjoy them.

When I was very small, I remember spending many late nights at the bowling alley.  Dad bowled on a league, and my sister and I were his cheerleaders.  I can remember several times when he would bowl strike after strike, and come very close to a perfect 300 score.  I know he bowled a perfect game more than once, but what I remember was the anticipation.  I would close my eyes, hold my breath and cross my fingers hoping for another strike.  Later, when I returned to one of those bowling alleys as an adult, I felt strangely nostalgic.  It was like going home.

I remember the day I got married at nineteen.  Both of my dads walked me down the aisle.  I was so nervous, but what I remember most about that moment is that I could feel them both shaking on either side of me, and both of them had something in their eyes.

Not to long ago, my sister and I got to take a trip to Galveston with my Dad.  We left behind the husbands and the kids, and it was just the three of us.  It was like old times.  We walked along the beach, drove all over the island, ate delicious seafood, and laughed and laughed.  I don't think I will ever forget that day, and how special it made me feel for us to have him all to ourselves. 

Dad and my Sister

Daddy and Me

I really wish I could be with my father to celebrate his 40 year anniversary with the company today.  I am really very proud of him, though, and thankful to call him "Dad!"

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