Friday, June 17, 2011

Any man can be a Father

What is the difference between a father and a dad? Any man can be a father. A  dad stays up all night when you have the flu. He buys you a cute pair of jammies when you have been in bed with the mumps. He picks you up gently from his bed and carries you to your own when he gets home from working at 6 am. He drives you all the way to your favorite record store when a new Beatles album comes out.

My dad adopted me when he and my mother married. I was 3 years old. My mother had been divorced from my biological father. My uncle frequented the bar where my dad worked weekends to supplement his income as a plant guard for Chrysler. My uncle introduced them one evening and it was love at first sight according to both.

I went everywhere with my dad. I learned to love hardware and Army/Navy surplus stores. My dad and I used to ride around town in his Chrysler. Everywhere we went folks would say, “She looks just like you!” My daddy would always wink.

My father had a college education and had joined the Army Air Corps during the war.  He literally could do anything. He could take a car apart and put it back together. He could do electrical wiring and repair plumbing. He was a math genius. Not to mention he could grow any vegetable  from seed. He taught me to think for myself. He believed in God, but abhorred organized religion. He raised me Catholic and sent me to parochial school, even though he did not agree with the theology.

He was a quiet man and very moral. Only rarely did I hear a “cuss” word out of him. He had the most wonderful garden in all the neighborhood. My mother spent much time after the harvest, canning and freezing vegetables for the winter. All of the other weekend farmers envied his green thumb.

I never knew either of my own Grandfathers. My children used to work in the garden with grandpa and they both have wonderful memories of that time. He was a huge influence on them. They talk about working all day for $1. Of coarse, he would take them to Toys R Us, or out for ice cream to supplement.

When my dad had open heart surgery the year before his death, I came to the small farm to take care of him while he recovered. We very rarely spoke at that time and his family hated my very existence. I was glad to get a chance to re-connect and for him to acknowledge that I was not the person he thought I was. We had some wonderful conversations about many subjects.  We spoke about my mother for the first time since she passed. He told me about her last minutes with tears in his eyes. He told me that he loved me and called me his daughter. I knew he meant it.

I miss my dad very much and remember him fondly.  I’m glad we had a chance to clear the air. My mother was his very best friend. They loved to “gallivant.“ When he retired and they moved south, they very often spent the day shopping, going to flea markets, or visiting local attractions together. I know somewhere, somehow they are out there gallivanting through the universe.

1 comment:

  1. Ah Grandpa Ray...He was def the closest thing I had to a dad as well. He taught me how to tie my shoes, ride a bike and bought me my first pair of roller skates. He was a strict disciplinarian as well. Couldn't sass or talk back to that guy, no siree. He was such a gentleman and definitely someone to look up to. Thanks for the memories Mom :)