Remembering My Father

youngm:d 2When I look in the mirror, I see Dad’s eyes looking back. I have his height, build, ears, and gestures. I like my physical resemblance to him, but I’m surprised when I display his behaviors, especially those I vowed to avoid when I was young, smug, and critical.

My dad’s unrestrained emotions, colorful language, and lack of guile wreaked havoc with my youthful notions of appropriate behavior. I remember refusing to go into the local bakery with him because he insisted on asking for stale bread, rather than day-old, as I thought proper.

Then the day arrived when my granddaughter told me she wished I would say soft drink rather than soda.  The only thing worse than asking her friends if they wanted a soda, she added, would be asking if they wanted pop.

Dad also embarrassed me by bursting into song at odd moments. I liked his melodious voice, but no one should sing “Blood on the Saddle,” while shopping at the supermarket or waiting in line at the bank. He’d croon obliviously, and I’d pretend not to know him.

Then years later, I received a note from one of my 4th grade students when I was home with the flu: “I hope you get well soon. I miss the way you go around singing and humming all the time.”

I used to judge Dad harshly when he flared into frustrated anger at things that didn’t work: cars, cows, the IRS. But to this day, when thwarted, I mutter profanities and thump the offending objects: sewing machines, vacuums, my hair.

However, even when young, I recognized that my father possessed the attributes that mattered: He loved and respected my mother and made her and his children the focus of his life. He never spoke a harsh, hurtful, or judgmental word about Mom, us, or anybody else. We always knew where he was and when he would be home, and he never disappointed us. Until the day he died, his children knew that if we needed his help, he’d be there, no matter how old we were or where we were.

He never said, “I love you,” to me, but he didn’t need to. I saw love in his eyes, sensed it in his actions, and carried its certainty with me every day I lived and every place I went.

At a recent class reunion, a former friend and neighbor, David, told me how much he had enjoyed knowing my dad. He remembered a time when he’d worked with Dad for several days putting up hay for an injured neighbor.

“I was lucky to be paired with him. He worked harder than anyone else, even those much younger, and sang or told stories the entire time. He treated me like I was worthwhile. I liked and respected him.”

So did I, David. And I loved him with all my heart.

Hug your fathers on Sunday.

Have any thoughts on today’s post? Please leave a comment below.

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22 thoughts on “Remembering My Father

  1. Every word filled me with love for my Grandpa, a man I miss dearly. I find myself singing in “odd places” and when I do, I smile. My recent trip from Vegas found me thinking of the times that Grandpa would sing and Grandma would add little comments in between each line. How I loved to hear his voice, see his eyes as they twinkled and witness the love, gone unspoken but very well known. Thank you, Janet, for yet again another walk down memory lane. My heart is full because of the experience.

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  2. That was a great way in remembering your father. Like your father, mine never said I Love You either, but he didn’t have to because I knew….Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  3. We share this: “I mutter profanities and thump the offending objects: sewing machines, vacuums…” I get along with my hair, though. But when I look in the mirror, there’s my Pa, staring back. Especially if I’m tired.

    Wonderful tribute. Thanks

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    • I’m glad there is another blogger out there who sometimes thumps and cusses. I also identify with your mirror experience, but I see my mother and grandmother looking back at me.

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  4. It is hard to admit, but I, too, am like my father in many ways. I have, however, decided which attributes I wish to embrace, and which ones I wish to change. We do not have to be what our genes are prone to create.

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  5. What a beautiful write..You are truly most blessed!!
    I too adore (still do) my Father and the day he passed I thought I would never find joy again..Then one day I found a blue bird feather under the wiper blade on my car (He loved those birds). I knew he was still with me..
    Happy Father’s Day to our Dads!!

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  6. Dear Janet, you have a rare gift of saying so much in so few paragraphs .. My old Pa died when I was 6 but I have vivid memories . He was of that generation that came of age in the depression, at 12 his dad ran off and he drove truck to support his family as he was the oldest. He and my Uncle Al had to decide between them who would go to war. We had the same teachers, except for Mrs Cox. He loved poetry. Fathers Day I oft wonder what may have been..Beautiful post! thanks from Sheila.

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  7. Thank you for your comment about my writing. I respect your opinion. Your dad made such an impression of you–vivid memories–in six short years. He must have been a good man. Did he like beets?

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  8. What a wonderful memory! I read it three times, just because it is so heart- warming.He must have been a remarkable man and father and on the photo he looks exactly like Leonardo Di Caprio.

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  9. Hi Janet- Yes he was a greatly respected man in our small town, a hunter and fisher, farmer. There was a legend that during the hard times he walked to school with his 22 rifle shooting crows and stray cats and selling them to the local cafe..my Aunt Cynthia swore on her deathbed it was true. He probably loved beets. He grew a milk fed pumpkin that still holds the record in the local fall fair. He had 12 siblings that all lived into their 80s and 90s. He forgave his dad for running off.

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  10. I love Vern, and miss him in our home, even when he told me that bottle fed babies stink. He had a way of delivering a one liner that always made me stop and think.

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    • Oh, Vickie, I can hear him telling you about bottle-fed babies and the inoffensive way he would have delivered it. I rarely think of my dad without feeling gratitude for you and Blaine and the way you accompanied him through his final months in a loving, care-taking way that preserved his dignity.

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