Orange popsicles from Hoffman’s, one after the other as we sat together in the worn recliner watching The Andy Williams Show. A clown mask and wig donned on a dare to greet the tollbooth attendant in our paneled station wagon named Betsy during a late 70’s family vacation to Virginia Beach. The Fifth Dimension’s Up, Up and Away blaring from our heavy wood cabinet console stereo which doubled as the dining room server as my dad diligently refinished that old mahogany coffee table and my sister and I jumped from dining room chair to dining room chair. Long, sunrise runs through our small town every morning before school my senior year. These are snapshots that I wish I had in my treasure box. But I don’t.
Here’s what I do have. A stack of handwritten letters, sent to me my first month away at college. A father’s love posited in the small talk of chit chat from home to calm the heart of seventeen year old struggling to find her place. He resisted the urge to drive up and bring me home when I would pour out my heart to him from the wall phone at the end of South corridor . . . he picked up his pen instead.
To me, he’s always been the cavalry. He’s the one I would go to when my foolish decisions had me buried under a ton of sludge. He’d listen through my tears, and then dig me out without letting me know that he was digging me out. He’s the man who still “pops over” to my house if the electrician is coming and I’m there alone. He’s my “you get one phone call” guy. Unflappable.
“You only spend your integrity once.”
“If you don’t want the answer, don’t ask the question.”
“Better than sliced bread.”
Dadisms. Of the very best kind.
Happy Father’s Day to the one who first taught me what it means to be a man.
I have a new snapshot to add to the “wish I hads” . . . two people sitting mid morning at the window table, watching passers-by walk along the sidewalk that they’ve traveled often, eating eggs benedict and talking about hopes, dreams, and realities. Gets no better than that. I love you, Dad.