Category Archives: Dad

A 102 Year Old Baby Picture of Dad

ScanAntique Antics

What’s the oldest thing you own? (Toys, clothing, twinkies, Grecian urns: anything’s fair game.) Recount its history — from the object’s point of view.

My Dad died when I was twenty-three and he was sixty. We shared the same birthdays.

My Dad was a legend not only to me, but to many of the men who grew up in the twenties and thirties in Lima, Ohio. Well, maybe not so much a legend as it was a reputation.

It has been over forty years since his death. I’ve gone through periods where there was resentment, anger, sympathy, understanding, ambivalence, but most of all forgiveness and love.

My children never knew my dad. My nieces and nephews hardly know him. This is for them and me.

I have a picture of my dad. He appears to be two or three. The photo was taken about a hundred years ago. It’s strange when I look at it, I can see him plainly.

Dad was the youngest of seven children. When he was born his brothers and sisters were already married or just about to leave home. By his own admission he was babied.

He described to me how his Dad would sneak into the kitchen at family gatherings and the young ones followed. He sprinkled sugar on a spoon and fed it to them.

The first story about my Dad’s life he told me was when he was a young boy. I don’t remember the age, but for the sake of context he was pre-school.

Dad said they lived in the country. He fell asleep in a wagon. The entire family became concerned because he was nowhere to be found.

There is something about the loss of a youngest child. That child is like everyone’s child. In those days the older brothers and sisters had a hand in raising and nurturing the younger ones. A near parental bond is made by older siblings.

They all began to fear the worst; he had fallen in the well, drown in a creek, or kidnapped.

The family gathered in the living room to consider the next option. Dad walked in rubbing his eyes and wondered what all the commotion was about.

That pattern seemed to follow Dad for the rest of his life; his older siblings wondering and worrying about where he was.

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Dad and Me A Long, Long Time Ago

Dad and me painting a toy jeep. (circa 1952)

Dad and me painting a toy jeep. (circa 1952)

Snapshots 

Open the first photo album you can find — real or virtual, your call — and stop at the first picture of yourself you see there . Tell us the story of that photo.

My Dad wasn’t much of a handyman at home. I don’t recall him ever using a hammer, wrench, or screwdriver. I don’t know what he did with a lot of his time. He read the newspaper and slept a lot.

A few days after payday he spent a lot of time at bars. I was with him nearly all the time. He’d give me a dollar and I might wander down to the corner drugstore for a sundae or coke and read Mad Magazine from the rack.

A lot of memories of Dad were from the bar scene.

Before starting to school I had a metal toy jeep. For some particular reason I decided to repaint it. Likely the reason may have been influenced by Dad and Mom having their car repainted.

Outside our kitchen window was a cement bench where Dad helped me repaint the jeep. We used left-over house paint (green).

I tried my best, but Dad was there to steady my hand and help. There are vivid memories of applying the paint. One thing sort of sticks out; although I was around five years old, Dad was not really interested in the project. He seemed uncomfortable with mechanical or manual tasks.

That day and memory stands out in my mind. The picture that accompanies this post is the one taken that day.

Most of what I learned about mechanical things, home repairs, building, and remodeling were learned on my own. He passed none of that to me.

There was a side to Dad that was not ever explored in his day. He lacked the discipline to follow through on projects and to take the time to learn. His memory was sharp and beyond his vulgar language knew how to express ideas and communicate. He was quick-witted and liked to spin a yarn.

A few year ago I went to that old house. It was uninhabited and about to fall in. The owner of the property approached me suspiciously and wanted to know what I was doing snooping around. I told him about living there as a child and the bench on which dad and I painted the toy jeep. I ask if the bench was found could it be purchased? He said I could have it for free. I looked, but could not find it.

Looking at that picture I’d like to go back in time for a brief moment and look up at my dad and say, “Dad, this is important, not today, but sixty years from today, not only to me, but to you too.”

Here is the link to episode 6 of my short story Class Reunion.

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Filed under Dad, Daily Prompt, Essays

Good Wood

th1UBOXV1VDaily Prompt: The Power of Touch

Textures are everywhere: The rough edges of a stone wall. The smooth innocence of a baby’s cheek. The sense of touch brings back memories for us. What texture is particularly evocative to you?

I love the feel of a varnished wood finish.

My dad was not good at doing things. I can’t remember him ever repairing anything. I never saw him change oil in his car, change a sparkplug, or tighten a loose screw. The only time I’d ever seen him with a hammer in his hand was to tap a keg.

There is one thing that required manual dexterity that he really enjoyed and took delight in, sanding.

If anyone wanted a floor sanded and varnished, dad was the man. He was absolutely meticulous about it. For him it wasn’t good until it was perfect. I watched him apply varnish as if painting a masterpiece.

What’s more, he never accepted a dime for his work. He worked for beer. That’s right. “I’ll do it for a case of cold ones,” he’d say. So it’s not surprising that the only places in town that could afford dad were bars.

Dad not only did the floors, but the bars also.

His handiwork was in some of the best dives in town.

About six years after my dad died we bought an old farm house. I sanded and varnished the floors. It was a tough task. I wasn’t content with my work. The reality is that I probably would not have been content with anything other than dad doing the job for me.

It would have cost me only a few cold ones.

Every time I see a hardwood floor or run my hands over a good wood finish it reminds me of dad standing over his work, holding a cold one, and the satisfied look in his eyes of a job well done.

Touchy-Feely Bloggers

  1. A Hug of Grace | Katherine’s Daughter
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  3. The Power of Touching Your Eel | Zakc Head
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  5. Walk away | Bullet holes in the wall
  6. Texture | The Magic Black Book
  7. texture | yi-ching lin photography
  8. some textures | y
  9. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | Awl and Scribe
  10. Touch of Power – Madiba | મન ની વાત
  11. Memories in Stone | Finale to an Entrance
  12. Touch | Momma Said There’d Be Days Like This
  13. Where is Nemo? | Foto Challenge
  14. Good Wood | The Jittery Goat
  15. Great Balls of Fire! | The Novice Gardener
  16. DAILY PROMPT: VISUAL TEXTURES | SERENDIPITY
  17. Madhura’s Musings
  18. a head bump, if you will. Bloody brilliant! | thoughtsofrkh
  19. The Power of Touch: When Mom Braided My Hair | Javagrrl Cafe
  20. The Lurker’s List | Power of Touch Through Giving Love
  21. Evocative | Active Army Wife
  22. Textured Brownies (mini chocolate bites) | A Crazy Chef
  23. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch « cognitive reflection
  24. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | THE WRITE PLACE…
  25. Inay | The Mockingbird in Me
  26. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  27. Mother’s Touch | crookedeyebrows
  28. Daily Prompt: Touch/Texture | This, that and the other thing
  29. The Eucalyptus Tree | Flowers and Breezes
  30. Sensory Experences | Kansa Muse
  31. I Wanna Go To Starbucks for Adult Conversation
  32. Wet, Fresh, Alive | Life is great
  33. Daily Prompt: Power of Touch | Bowl of Rice
  34. The Touch and the Feel . . . | meanderedwanderings
  35. The Power of Touch | The Nameless One
  36. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | rfljenksy – Practicing Simplicity
  37. Birch Touch | Mara Eastern’s Personal Blog
  38. What The Cat Dragged In | Just Visiting This Planet
  39. Floral Friday | Yellow Folds | puncta lucis
  40. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | Basically Beyond Basic
  41. Texture: From a Wahine’s Point of View | Wahine Wednesdays
  42. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | angelamoody95
  43. Texture on the Beach | Someday I Will Learn
  44. Textures Abound | Mountains or Molehills
  45. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | The Fountain
  46. Texture | Exploring the world
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  48. The Jab of a Needle | A Buick in the Land of Lexus
  49. Untouched | Cheri Speak
  50. Daily Prompt: The Power of Physical Expression | One Starving Activist
  51. Like a Butterfly | Blue Loft
  52. The Power of Touch: Texture | Different Isn’t Wrong, It’s Just Different
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  54. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch. | eBook Sharing
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  60. Life is beautiful ! | Dreams to Reality !
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  62. As smooth as a baby’s butt | I am Lynn
  63. Touch Me, Stir My Fire – Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | Mine to Do Over
  64. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch » My Life, My Way, My Words
  65. Daily Prompt: Texture | Tommia’s Tablet
  66. Daily Prompt : The Power of Touch | Mon beau manoir

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Filed under Dad, Daily Prompt, Essays

And I Have Hope

imagesCANS8TKJDaily Prompt: Community Service

Your entire community — however you define that; your hometown, your neighborhood, your family, your colleagues — is guaranteed to read your blog tomorrow. Write the post you’d like them all to see.

A Walk In The Park

Imagine for a moment the dead coming back to life. Not in some zombiefied state, but vibrant, aware, and grateful to live again.

Imagine the person you were closest who died. Their presence made you secure, joyful, and complete. I do. It is my Dad I sometimes imagine in that state. It is so real and overpowering that I can hear his voice and feel his smile. It was a good smile he had.

I imagine a meeting that has been arranged for us. It is a quiet place; a bench awaits us beside a lake lined with the colors of fall. The peacefulness is interrupted only by a slight breeze that disturbs the leaves and they chatter like old ladies. A fish splashes close by. A deer bends down to lap-up a cool drink at the lakes shore.

My father sits on the bench and tosses pebbles into the water. He turns when he hears my feet wade through some fallen leaves.

“You’ve probably been waiting to see me for a long time,” he says.

“Fifty years,” I say.

We embrace and grasp the joy of our faces.

“There was so much I was wrong about,” he says. “There is so much more I need to know and learn.”

“All of us,” I say.

“Why did you pick this spot to meet?” he says.

“Remember the walks through the park in the fall,” I say.

“Yes,” he says. “They meant that much to you?”

“Yes,” I say. “Those were such good times.”

“I remember them too,” he says. “They meant a lot to me, but I never imagined them meaning so much to you.”

“Did you ever have walks like that with your father?” I ask.

“No,” Dad says. “And I regret that. I was too busy for my Dad, too busy being a big shot.”

“See there, Dad,” I say pointing to a path leading to us.

“Yes,” Dad says. “Who is that?”

“It is your Dad,” I say. “Why not take the time to have that walk with him and then we’ll all walk together.”

John 5:28, 29; “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.”

Acts 24:15; “and I have hope toward God, which hope these men themselves also entertain, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Revelation 20:12, 13; “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds. And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and the grave gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds.”

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A Train Named “Regret”

My son and I thirty-five years ago. Wow! Where did all the time go? As soon as I find the photo with my dad and me I'll rewrite and repost.

My son and I thirty-five years ago. Wow! Where did all the time go? As soon as I find the photo with my dad and me I’ll rewrite and repost.

Daily Prompt: Regrets, I’ve Had a Few

What’s your biggest regret? How would your life have been different if you’d made another decision?

The Daily Prompt has tried several different ways to divulge a regret from me; I’ve always managed to sidestep it. I’ve taken the highroad and proudly proclaimed ‘I have no regrets.’ You and I both know life is full of regrets; admitting a regret is like admitting failure.

My son, who is now forty, will be moving before long. He and his wife are giving up many of their possessions. As they were going through some old things stored away for years he came across an electric train set I bought for him when he was five. He told me he got it out and set it up.

Immediately I said, “I wish I had mine. I sold it to my cousin when I was fourteen. It was a big mistake.”

My son replied, “I decided to give it to a little boy we know.”

Although feeling that was a decision he would regret as he got older it was his to give away. “That’s nice,” I said. “I’m sure that little boy will enjoy it as much as you did.”

As we were talking about the trains I thought about two pictures, one of me and my dad when I was about five with my train set and another of me and my son with his train set.

The next day my son called me and said he reconsidered.

“I didn’t buy it for a boy,” I said. “I bought it for when you’re a man.”

This man (me) regrets selling that train to my cousin. Although it would have been an unselfish and charitable act for my son to give the train to the little boy, each man has a little boy inside that longs for sweet memories of good times with dad.

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I Can’t Write What I Don’t Know

Mom, Dad, Char, and Becky during the war (possibly 1943) before I entered the picture.

Mom, Dad, Char, and Becky during the war (possibly 1943) before I entered the picture.

Daily Prompt: Companionable

Head to one of your favorite blogs. Write a companion piece to their penultimate post.

Heck, I had to look up what “penultimate” meant. That automatically disqualifies me.

What happens to the brain when you run out of things to write about? For one thing, you start thinking about stuff nobody else would possibly think about and call yourself clever.

Estelle Getty as Sophia in the Golden Girls said of Ernest Hemingway, ‘As a writer he dried up, got depressed, and blew his brains out with a shot-gun.” Rather crass, but it was her (Sophia’s) response to a situation.

Anyway, this prompt left me looking for my shot-gun. What is more disturbing is that I have none. I might as well open my desk drawer, dangle my fingers over the edge, slam the drawer, and write about the first word that comes out of my mouth. So in the absence of a shot-gun and a desire not to wake my wife with “Ahhhhh &%*@!”:

I’ll write a little something else. Two days ago I got a package. It was from my niece back in Ohio. It contained some old family photos. They were photos of family, of simple times, and simple ways, and simple people.

Likely the last picture of Dad before an operation disfigured his jaw. It's the way I remember him.

Likely the last picture of Dad before an operation disfigured his jaw. It’s the way I remember him.

No words have come to my fingertips that describe my feelings. I just have a lot of tears. It was as if a door to the past had been suddenly thrust open and I walked in uninvited. My only two siblings have died (sisters). Dad died in ’69 and Mom will be 100 next February. One picture surprised me. I had never seen it before, It was a picture of Dad. It was a picture of him shortly before his cancer operation in ‘62. It is how I remember him before the operation left one side of his face missing half of his jaw bone.

Anyway, that’s what prompted me today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dad Gets Cancer

This was pretty much Dad's favorite recreation and hobby.

This was pretty much Dad’s favorite recreation and hobby.

Dad lived from one beer and one cigarette to the other. It was just a matter of time before it would all catch up with him. He couldn’t laugh without breaking into a wet cough.

Dad’s addiction to cigarettes was unbelievable. I recall a time when the family went to Chicago to visit friends we got caught in at snow storm on North Shore drive. The traffic was bottled up. No one was moving. Dad ran out of cigarettes. I recall him pounding the dash of the car and cursing the traffic. “I need some god d*mn cigarettes.”

There are not too many photos of Dad without a beer beside him or a cigarette in his fingers.

I was fifteen and watching TV one Spring evening. Mom came into the living room and told me Dad was in the kitchen. She said, “Your Dad wants to talk to you.”

I was hoping it was not ‘the talk.’ Dad was crude in his expressions and likely such a conversation would have left me scared for life.

Dad sat at the kitchen table with his right elbow resting on the table. He told me to sit. I pulled out a chair and sat. I knew it wasn’t ‘the talk.’ Dad had no hint of being uncomfortable. I’d never seen wear a more heartfelt and serious expression.

“Last week they did a biopsy of a lump in my throat and I have cancer.”

That’s all it took for me to fall in my Dad’s arms. We stood and sobbed and held on to each other. I knew what he said, but all I heard is that ‘Dad was going to die.’

We talked for an hour or so. Dad assured me that he was not going to give up. He told me that he and Mom made an appointment to see a cancer specialist is Columbus. Dad was confident and that gave me confidence.

That night in bed I prayed. I cried a lot and didn’t sleep. I heard Dad get up at little past five and Mom drove him to work. I was waiting for her when she came home. I asked her if I could stay home from school. She insisted that I go, because there would be days to come when I would not attend school.

That day I recall walking the hallways and forcing smiles and making comments with friends on subjects not even in discussion. I could not talk to anyone.

Dad, Mom and I went to Columbus to see the cancer specialists. I sat in the car and waited. After an hour Dad and Mom came out to the car. They were hopeful. The doctor assured them of success. The cancer was local (only in the throat). Some of Dad’s jaw bone along with tissue would be removed.

The operation was scheduled for the later part of May.

Mom, my sister Char, her husband Chuck, and I were at University Hospital in Columbus the day of the surgery. I don’t remember seeing Dad before hand, but I recall the wait. After a couple of hours Dad’s surgeon visited with us and said the operation was a complete success.

It was a couple of hours before Dad was back in his room and a couple of hours after that before I was able to see him.

I walked into his room. He lifted his head. It was distorted and the whole side his neck and face was heavily packed with gauze and surgical tape. Blood had already seeped through the dressing.

I went to Dad’s side. “You okay, Dad?”

Dad had the most sorrowful and helpless look I’d ever seen on a man’s face. My knees buckled and I lost balance.

“Somebody better take him out,” Mom said.

Chuck put his arm around me and walked me from the room. We walked a ways down the hallway and looked out the window. We sat on a bench.

“Are you okay?’ Chuck said.

“I didn’t think he’d look that bad,” I said. “He looks lost and lonely.”

“He’ll do fine,” Chuck said.

(Continued next week.)

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