Wednesday, December 07, 2005

December 7th


No, not December 7th, 1941, although every year I do eventually remember that it is Pearl Harbor Day.

December 7th is important to me for another reason. It is my father's birthday. He was born on December 7, 1931 and if he were still alive he'd be 74 years old today.

Memories of my dad:

I remember he called me Rock or Rocky.

I remember waking up as a very little girl to the buzz of his electric razor.

I remember he smelled like Old Spice.

I remember him coming home for dinner, dressed in his Ohio State Highway Patrol uniform, and kissing my mom on his way through the kitchen and unbuckling his gun belt. When he returned to the kitchen the gun was no where to be seen. I learned years later from my mother that he had a nail at the back of the closet where he hung it out of sight and out of reach.

I remember him swinging me on the swing set in the back yard, singing an "Alvin and the Chipmunk" song--"OO EE OO AA Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang"

I remember him coming home for dinner while the three of us kids were sitting in front of the TV in our clean jammies, watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. He told my sister and me that if we ever brought a boy home with hair that long, he's "stomp him in a crack." (Tom had long hair and very huge sideburns when we started dating (hey, it was 1974!) and he never did "stomp him in a crack".

I remember him spraying us with the garden hose in the backyard on hot summer days. He was always "Raid" and we were always the bugs. We "died" very dramatically--lots of kicking legs and swirming on the grass.

I remember having orchestra concerts in Junior High and thinking that he wouldn't be able to get away from his job long enough to see the concert, but without fail, he was always there, standing in the doorway with his stetson in his hands. And when my part was over, he would melt away.

I remember coming home from a three week trip to France and how hard he hugged me when I got off the bus.

I remember him trying to teach me to drive. I was a bad driver and we were both frustrated. Tempers flaired and angry words spilled out. It was the only time I ever talked back to him. He told me to get in the passenger side and he drove us home and never said a word about the scene.

I remember how he shook hands with the boys I brought home to meet him. He had a reputation as "The Crusher". A man should have a firm handshake.

I remember the first time Tom came to eat at our house. Mom had fixed roast beef and my dad took a piece of bread, poured gravy over it and declared, "I don't know what you do at your house, but here we eat gravy bread!" Tom was relieved because they eat gravy bread at his house, too.

I remember another big hug on the day I got married. I thought I might faint from lack of air! I remember him putting a penny in my shoe for good luck.

I remember the day our first son, John was born. He was so "radiant." I know that is usually a word reserved for brides, but he was so happy that he glowed!

I remember the last time I talked to him. We were living about an hour or so apart. I called to talk to my mom about the birthday party I was planning for my niece, Katie, who was turning 1 year old in June of '83. Dad answered the phone. My dad wasn't much of a phone talker. Our conversations usually consisted of, "Hi Honey, how are you? How's my boy? Here's your mom." But this night it was different. He couldn't wait to tell me about how much he was enjoying his flying lessons. He had served on the U.S.S. Midway and had always loved being around airplanes but he had never flown. But now that he was semi-retired he was fulfilling one of his life long dreams. He told me that he had flown several times but that day he had done his first take off. Landings would be coming soon. He was like a kid on Christmas morning! I remember laughing together.

The next day, while he was up in the airplane doing what he loved to do, he suffered a massive heart attack. The man who was teaching him to fly said that Dad had said he didn't feel well and in the time it took for him to take over the controls and look back at him, he was gone.

Over the last few days, I have been contemplating the preciousness of time. Nothing brings home the brevity of life and the uncertainty of our days than the death of someone you love.

I remember my mom sending me to the top drawer of his dresser to find his dress uniform buttons, because he was going to be buried in his uniform. There I found, not only his buttons, but a whole drawer full of memories. Things we had made him as kids, things I had brought him from France, baby teeth, baby hair, grade cards, all the things that he had saved. Precious things.

I loved my dad.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Allyson said...

Wow, Kim, this is beautiful! What wonderful memories of your father! He sounds like a great man, a loving, gentle, good man. I'm glad you have such vivid memories. You ought to do a little scrapbook with pictures of him and use one memory per page, or something. Or you could ask someone you know who loves to scrapbook to do it for you. . .hint hint.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Kim from Hiraeth said...

He was a wonderful father.

2:30 PM  
Blogger karen said...

Yes Kim, I know of a wonderful person who loves to scrapbook and I have a pretty good idea would do it with/for you. Hi Allyson. I'm going to post on your blog too as soon as I figure out how to do it.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Kim from Hiraeth said...

Oh! So you ARE "my Karen"!!!

Welcome to my blog. I hope you'll come and make yourself at home here.

I miss you!

7:46 AM  
Blogger karen said...

Thanks for the welcome! I hope to visit often. I am going to take time later today to catch up on the Resolutions. I already said that I think I commented in the wrong post. I'm learning...

I've never taken the time to really look at Edward's resolutions before. I'm sorry for that but I am excited to spend time on them now. Thanks Doll. I'm going to email you with a question I have and need your assistance with.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Kim from Hiraeth said...

You know, Karen. You should start a blog. You've got so much wit and wisdom to share. You'd have a faithful reader in me!

8:04 AM  

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