Father’s Day is fast approaching. Though dad has been gone for fifteen years I don’t hesitate to love it and embrace it. I’m sad that my father isn’t here to celebrate, but he’s my dad to celebrate. Whether he’s here, or in heaven, or somewhere else. There’s only one place you would leave heaven for and that would be Ireland. I can imagine him heading over to Eire with his own father, who always wanted to see that lovely piece of heaven on earth.
When dad died very unexpectedly his eight off spring converged upon his home. We stayed together for a solid week. And prior to the funeral you would find any one of the eight of us hidden off in our own space to write our memories of dad. Memories to be read at his funeral.
I’m surprised I remember, that the day of his funeral was a pretty enough day. We were all still in shock. Dad’s gone? How can he be gone when he has always existed for us? With us.
I still feel shock when I think of it like that.
But there’s something else I do, and I suspect or hope, my siblings do the same thing. When I think of dad I smile, and I laugh.
When it came time for his eulogy the oldest of us approached the lectern in the church. And with his very deep and beautiful voice he shared our memories. The written memories that I keep at my house in my ‘dad cabinet’. With a preamble about dad he set everyone in the church to be prepared to hear our dad’s “ism’s”. His antics. His behaviors. His dad moments.
“A fifteen minute project” It never was.
“Where there’s a will there’s a way”. If dad had a will, one of us had to find a way.
Dad hiding a cough drop on the farm and splitting us into two teams, sending us out to find it while he took a nap. The ‘farm’ was 64 acres. Give or take half an acre.
“At ease”. Before you get in trouble.
“Simmer”. Before you get in more trouble.
“Can it”. We would say shut up to each other, dad had a little more class. Though it meant the same thing.
“Dag nab it”. I would say ‘damnit’ when I got older. Interestingly I now say ‘dag nab it’ more.
“Happy Nappy Time”. One of his favorite times.
“Are all girls squirrelly or just squirrelly people girls?” This was reserved of course, for the three daughters only. On occasion I think he may have shared this with our little girl cousin from California/Georgia/Cincinnati. 😉
“God’s Country”. Where he wanted to be more than any place else.
St. Patrick’s Day parade in the Willy’s. If you don’t know what the “Willy’s” was you don’t know our family, or anything about vehicles from WW II.
The yellow International Truck. His prized vehicle for quite a few years that he threw a mattress in and traveled 63 miles to and from with us kids hanging out the back of that truck on the interstate.
Traveling that interstate singing “We all live in a yellow pick up truck” to the tune of “We All Live In A Yellow Submarine”. He had creative kids.
Getting eight of us in the cab of the yellow international truck. Still had to travel during the winter months.
#7 driving #8 to the farm on the hood of the Willy’s. Mom stopped them before they got out of the drive way. But it was rolling. And #7 was the oldest at five years of age. This was dad’s fault though. He’s the one that put all of us behind the wheel of all vehicles, on his lap, on our own. What ever our age.
The last pew in church. Heaven forbid you are the first one in the church and everyone is following you and you go past that designated choice of seating!
Leisure suits. I’m pretty sure this is self explanatory.
Black Knapp shoes, white wool socks, wool shirt and fat ties. My dad was a fashion fart.
Mark V Beer, the first lite beer in America.
G.I. Parties. Seriously, we had them.
Mogen David. The cure all. Google it.
General Diaper Service and Seven Up. Believe it or not, those two things go hand in hand in our world.
“We’re half way!!!!!!!” This is a story with a thousand little stories.
“The WHOLE WIDE WORLD, THE UNITED STATES, CANADA, and BRISTOL.” This meant everything.
Lifetime shoes and glasses. He believed in them.
Smith Brother’s Cough Drops. The second cure all.
Having to find my Easter basket in the toilet of the motor home. Creative genius, dad was.
“And I don’t mean maybe mister!” And he did not!
Unsigned birthday cards so we could reuse them.
“Dead Skunk In The Middle Of The Road”.
Spitting our gum out before getting caught. Because he could not tolerate us chewing gum. Maybe we sounded like a herd of cows.
Dad’s key ring.
Bulk pickles, bulk toothbrushes, bulk toilet tissue, bulk cooking oil, bulk everything.
Near beer. His Lent stand by when he gave up real beer.
That sound only dad could make clucking his tongue, that made every baby laugh. I made that sound just now to hear him. And I did.
Flexible muscle. I think we all inherited it.
“Because they grow in to cats”. Why we couldn’t have kittens.
Salt and pepper whisker rubs.
I scream you scream we all scream for ice cream. Dad didn’t say that. We screamed it at him. Sometimes it worked.
The shaving cream brush.
Shirley Temples on your birthday.
“That’s not gum in your mouth is it?” You can reference above for this. It was a dreaded question to be asked if it was gum in your mouth.
The Old Spice bank.
How long dad could swim under water. He was impressive.
Limburger cheese. The cruelty of his love for that cheese that was inflicted on us.
My brother spoke. Mostly to the seven of us sitting in that front pew. And we laughed. We laughed until we cried. Different tears than what we had been crying all week long. Laughing tears. Because these things we all shared together, with him. They painted a picture that had it’s own sound track of off beat songs, Johnny Cash and the Kingston Trio.
As I looked at the last posted comment for the eulogy I got tears in my eyes. And smiled. It was such a part of my childhood. I haven’t heard it in years and hadn’t thought of it in years. But as soon as I read it, I heard it and I felt it. Dad didn’t live a fancy life. But he lived as our father and I will always celebrate that. And when I read the last comment of his eulogy I can see him holding my youngest brother or youngest sister. I can smell his Old Spice after shave. I can See the Mark V beer can in his hand. And I can hear him.
“I love you the mostest.”
And he did.