Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dad's Gone

I want to remember my dad, not as I saw him in the hospital on Tuesday, but when he was full of piss and vinegar, so to speak:

* Riding on his back as he crawled around the room when I was a toddler.

* The way he would comfort me after I fought with my siblings or my mom when I was a kid.  He was always the peace maker.

* His crazy sandwiches: peanut butter and miracle whip, cream cheese and jelly on white bread.

* Eating sardines.

* How he biked to work in the 1970's - way before anyone else did.

* His moped in the early 80's - I can still picture him zipping around town with his longish hair streaming back in the breeze.

* Some of his clothes: the suede jacket, turtleneck and sports jacket, purple cow tie.

* The way he really wore things until they completely wore out, saving all his new stuff "for good."

* His meticulousness as a woodworker and handyman.  The only guy who really does all the prep work before painting.  The labeled coffee jars of nails, screws, etc. all sorted by size/type and lined up on shelves.

* His wonderful output of turnings - lamps, bowls, candlesticks, plus the myriad of cases he made for model cars and mom's minis.

* His interest in cars (too bad he had to drive things like the Ford Pinto).

* His gift as a storyteller.  He had lots of favorite stories about his time in Italy during WWII, but also about growing up:
   - dipping the braids of the girl in front of him in his inkwell.
   - eating apples when he was supposed to be selling them, until his father created wooden boxes that made the theft easier to detect.

* The time he drove me and a car full of kids through a snowstorm.  Conditions must have been terrible - it took hours - but he just plugged away and got us all home safely.

* My kids it when he drove them around, pulling the cart they sat in with his tractor.  Once he got stuck in the swamp - what a mess - the tires were buried halfway.  But he had a plan: he used ropes tied around trees as leverage to pull the whole thing out of the muck.  Careful, exacting labor - but of course he stuck with it and it worked.

* He'd make us a hot breakfast in the morning (he was always the one who woke us up and got us going): oatmeal, cream of wheat w/chocolate, wheatina, and on weekends - fried eggs.

* The consistency of his plaid shirts - before and after the grunge movement.

* Shorts in the summer, trousers in the winter (never jeans) - and work boots throughout.

* All the things he made himself, renovating two kitchens (four if you also count the tiny apartment kitchens), the workspaces in his efficient print shop, the dance floor he made for my wedding.

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