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 16, 2019

Father's Day 2019

It's been a long time since I've thought much about my dad, since he died forty years ago. My brother-in-law Pete captured this priceless picture of him in the kitchen getting ready to go to work on a Monday morning. Well, it looks like a Monday, but who knows for sure? Daddy died in 1979, and Pete died in 2011. That's my sister Norma Jean behind him.

Daddy was only 62 when he died of a heart attack. That seems so young to me now, since I'm almost fifteen years older than he ever got to be. I've outlived both of my parents, and I suspect that much of the reason I haven't succumbed to heart disease is because of statin drugs, which didn't exist back then, as well as decades of exercise and a diet pretty close to what is called the Mediterranean Diet. I also work to maintain a normal weight. Both of my parents struggled to keep their weight under control. I remember Daddy telling me that it would be something that I would struggle with as well, since my parents both did, and it runs in families. He was right.

However, I and my siblings are all on statins and have various measures of success with keeping our weight in the normal range. My sister Norma Jean and I are the oldest two, and we are also the most determined exercisers. She swims a mile every weekday, plays golf, and walks as well. I also walk, but I cannot keep up with her; she's really fast: when I visit her in Florida, I swim and walk with her. My own routine is pretty set: I walk or hike several days a week, work out at the gym, take yoga twice a week, and have a brisk walk with the ladies every Saturday. Sundays are my rest days. Other than on Sunday, I get my 10,000 steps in, usually before noon.

Daddy was an avid golfer. He loved the game and played several times a week, which was his main exercise. But he also loved good food and would often linger at the dinner table finishing off any leftovers. Mama was a good cook and mostly enjoyed fixing meals, usually heavy on the meat and potatoes and light on the vegetables. It was the way I was raised. It's been a long time since I've had a t-bone steak and baked potato with butter and cream cheese, but I still remember how much I loved it.

What I remember the most about Daddy was how much he relished a good conversation as he and Mama had their nightly martinis. They waited until 5:00pm and then each had a couple. The martini shaker was always chilled and ready to go by then. Frosty martini glasses were filled and garnished with pimiento olives on toothpicks. It was a familiar sight as I was growing up. Once I thought the chilled vodka was water and took a big swig before I realized my mistake. It was horrible and the only time I ever ingested any part of a martini, other than the olives.

Alcohol made my dad loquacious, and he would tell me stories and I'd listen in rapt attention. I looked forward to those moments when it was just the two of us, and I'd ask questions and he told of his military days, people he knew long before, and adventures and exploits that he would wistfully recount. I'm ashamed to say that many of those stories I've forgotten, but those times when I listened to them is what I remember the most: the closeness I felt with him.

Daddy also enjoyed reading science fiction novels, and he taught me to appreciate them, too. We would sometimes talk about Isaac Asimov stories we both loved, as well as other authors. I still to this day enjoy sci-fi because of getting an early start at his knee. Although much of what we discussed has faded into the mists of time, the feeling of his presence still remains. He was a person who cried easily, and I remember many times when something would move him and bring him to tears. Of course, as a man of that era, he hated it and felt it was unmanly, but I loved that about him. He would sometimes try to cover it up and pull out his handkerchief and blow his nose into it as if he had an allergic reaction. It was sweet and completely transparent.

When he had the severe heart attack that would take his life, he was admitted to the hospital after collapsing in the emergency room. Three days later he died, but in the meantime all his children from around the country were able to see him before he left us forever. That is a memory I don't really wish to dwell on, because it still hurts, even these long years later.
This is the price you pay for having a great father. You get the wonder, the joy, the tender moments—and you get the tears at the end, too. Harlan Coben
Yes, my father was someone who made an enormous imprint on the lives of many, including me, his daughter. He will always be remembered as long as those of us who loved him exist. It is the fate of all of us to eventually die and fade away, but while we are here, we can remember with fondness our fathers on their special day each year.

I hope you will have a wonderful day today, whether or not you are a father. I know for a fact that you had one, and I wish you all the best on this beautiful Sunday when we take a moment to remember. My dear partner still sleeps next to me as I wind down this post, my tea is gone, and I look forward to my friends at the coffee shop whom I will join soon. Until we meet again next week, I wish you all good things.


gigi-hawaii said...

Poignant tribute to your father. I have a completely image of mine.

Arkansas Patti said...

Beautiful account of your father and I love that picture. He almost looks asleep standing up. I love the quote for it is so true. The better our dads were, the harder it is to go on with out them in our corner but then we get to enjoy the great memories. A fair trade off I guess.

Rian said...

Excellent post, DJan. Love hearing about your dad. Our dads' memories are all bittersweet... remembering the good times as well as the loss. My dad died at 75 of gall bladder cancer. However, it wasn't the cancer that took him, but a stroke while in the hospital.

Marty said...

Never having been close to my father - personality, being 2nd born, separated by divorce, who knows - I enjoyed yours vicariously. What wonderful memories.

Far Side of Fifty said...

You have some wonderful memories of your Father! I hope you have a wonderful week too!

William Kendall said...

A wonderful tribute to your father.

Elephant's Child said...

Precious, wonderful memories. And a lovely tribute. I do enjoy your posts. Hugely.

Marie Smith said...

Those of us who had good fathers have a day with warm memories though it’s not the same for everyone. Days like this can be hard for some.

I carry my parents with me now after all these years without them. They feel close somehow.

Have a great week Jan.

Gigi said...

I loved this post (and picture! That picture captures EXACTLY how I feel on early Monday mornings!). As a child, I was daddy's girl. I miss those days. I also regret the years that we weren't close, but he and I made the effort before he died, for that I am grateful.

Have a wonderful week, my friend.

The Furry Gnome said...

Until we meet again.

Red said...

Very nice tribute to your Dad. You had a great relationship with him. Many people didn't have good relationships with parents.

Linda Myers said...

Lovely tribute to your father!

Rita said...

Lovely memories. Happy Father's Day. :) :)

Linda Reeder said...

It's now Monday morning, the morning after a busy Sunday. We honored the father of my children with good food and good company, our two generations of offspring.
I enjoyed reading your post. I always learn a bit more about you when you write about your family and your early years.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Sure enjoyed reading about your dad. You two had a great relationship. I paid special attention when you mentioned your walking. 10,000 steps before noon ... that is awesome! My 3-mile walk around Green Lake gives me just over 6,000 but I usually don't add another 4,000 even by my bedtime at night. Lately it seems like I'm around 8,500 to just over 9,000 but it all depends on so many different factors. Another excellent post here ... thanks for sharing. Have a good week ahead my friend. John

C-ingspots said...

I love this tribute to your dad. In many ways, it sounds like the relationship I shared with my own daddy. He was a good man, would help anyone in anyway he could, stubborn (guess where I got it), loving, emotional and loved to tell me stories about his military days, childhood and what he remembered of his siblings. Oh, and how to drive in all types of conditions, etiquette of the road and such. I remember the closeness I felt when I had him all to myself. Wonderful memories that I cherish. And now that I'm so much older, I realize what a true blessing he was in my life, there are so many who didn't have the experience of a strong and loving father in their lives. I sure miss him! Thank you DJan.