I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day 2010

I went to bed last night thinking about what I would write here this morning, with no idea. None at all. Since it's Father's Day, and my dad has been gone since 1979, I thought maybe it would be a good idea to see what I remember about him from long ago.

I'm older now than he was when he died at 62. Most years, I don't even acknowledge this day, since it's been so long since we both walked this earth. He was born in 1917, almost a century ago and died of a heart attack. One of my earliest memories of Daddy was sitting in his lap when I was very small. I put my hand on top of his and have a clear image in my mind of the difference in the sizes of our hands: his huge one and my very small one. It's amazing which memories stand out.

Mama never got up to send us to school, so I remember Daddy making lunches for Norma Jean and me and getting us onto the bus. He also would wash my hair in the sink, again I remember his enormous hands and how gentle he was. I wonder why Daddy is the one who washed my hair; I don't remember why, but he did.

After Daddy retired from the Air Force, the family settled in Fort Worth, across the lake from the air base. When I was sixteen, my parents started having babies again, and the three small children, my brother and two youngest sisters, grew up in one place, rather than moving constantly the way the first three of us did. I was a little envious of the roots they put down. Mama and Daddy had the most wonderful home for many years on the lake. I would come home to visit now and then, or sometimes to escape a failing marriage. I would come home for a few months.

Even though I had moved away from the family before they settled there, I always thought of it as "home" because that's where Mama and Daddy were. Daddy didn't actually retire but continued to work at General Dynamics after leaving the Air Force, and in a post I wrote about him on my other blog,  my brother made this comment:
Don't forget he also worked at General Dynamics (now Lockheed) for a number of years after retiring from the Air Force. GD was also across the lake, and he often piloted his boat (GiGi, pronounced "jee-jee") to work. It was cool watching him take off into a strong wind with lots of "white cap" waves on the lake, on his way to the office.
When I was home at Windswept (the name of the sprawling house on the lake), I found that Daddy would always get up before work and whip up some frozen orange juice in the blender, with small paper cups lined up on the counter, one for each of us who slept there the night before. The memory of all those tiny paper cups filled with frosty and foamy orange juice is vivid. The taste almost comes back when I think of it. He did that for so many years it became a family tradition.

Daddy was a family man, and he fathered seven children, one of whom died in infancy, but all the rest of us are still here. I'm the only one who will not further the family line; every other one of my siblings has children who are having children. I wonder just how many of us there are now. Norma Jean has just become a grandmother and I a grand-aunt. Daddy loved us all, I know that with every fiber of my being. It would have been nice to have him around longer, but now that I've come to the end of this post, I realize I answered my own question.

I do remember Daddy very well, and time has not dimmed his value to me, or to his other offspring, of this I am sure.


Linda Reeder said...

What a lovely telling of your memories of your father. It leads me to recall my own father, who was also born in 1917, and who also fathered seven children. I remember his big hands, his love of singing, and his easy laugh.
Thank you, DJan.

CiCi said...

Really nice remembrance, DJan. I like the little cups of whipped orange juice. We used to do that in a blender too. You were fortunate to have a father who participated in the family and with each of his children individually. Hugs to you.

Anonymous said...

Glad you have so many fond memories of your father, DJan. My own memories of my dad are ambivalent. Ours was a love-hate relationship. When I was a kid, I was so afraid of him. Now that I am a mother and grandmother, I feel only disgust. I wish I loved my father the way you love yours.

California Girl said...

Isn't it amazing what you remember? The sights, sounds, tastes?

I can see my father's hands, hear his voice and feel his touch. He pestered the shit out of me when he was alive but he meant well. We came to terms late in life but thank God, we resolved all conflict. He needed me in his final years and I was able to help him. My only regret is how far apart we lived and how seldom he was able to see his grandsons.

Jo said...

Aw... what a lovely post. I was only 31 when I lost my Dad, and I thought my world would come to an end. Your Dad sounds very much like my Dad -- a hands-on Dad.

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads. :-)

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Memory: what an amazing gift. Great post. My dad was born in 1913. That seems, like, I don't know, waaayyyy long ago.

Whitney Lee said...

I'm glad you've got so many wonderful memories. It has to be a comfort to you to know that he lives on in those memories of yours, and the ones your siblings hold.

I dread the day that my father lives on only in my memory. We are very close; he has been the one I've turned to with all of my hopes and fears and heartaches. Still, I've learned enough to be thankful for each day I do have him.

CrazyCris said...

Sounds like a lovely relationship! I dread the day when my Dad will be gone... hopefully not for many years!

I forgot it was father's day this weekend over there... in Spain it's March 19th!

The Retired One said...

Very sweet memories,DJan...he sounds like a wonderful man.

Far Side of Fifty said...

What great memories of your Dad, and how you remember him washing your hair and making you orange juice..tending..caring things:)

Nancy said...

He sounds like a wonderful father. How nice to remember him today, after so long. My Dad has been on my mind as I unpacked a box and uncovered my favorite picture of him. He died in 1987. I still miss him. I guess once Daddy's little girl, always Daddy's little girl.