In one of my favorite memories of my dad, we are power walking through an airport. Joel and I had flown with my father, eighty-eight at the time, to Nashville to visit my brother. Our flight home had a close connection in Houston, and we arrived late, thirty gates away from our next flight.
While Joel ran to try to detain the flight, I gave up on waiting for a cart, linked arms with Dad, and walked with him as fast as possible through the thronged concourse, counting down the gates. We were at twenty-two, on our way to fourteen, when Dad nudged me with his elbow, “Don’t worry, Janet; we’ll make it. I’m saving my kick for the finish.”
My siblings and I never talk about Dad for any length of time without telling stories and laughing. In-laws and grandchildren do the same. With his understated wit, amusing stories, singular descriptive phrases, and insistence on being himself, he made me laugh — even when, a petulant teenager, I tried not to.
In a Facebook post last year, I described how my father once mailed his adult offspring articles touting the consumption of large quantities of raw garlic. Some of his grandchildren and a daughter-in-law responded. Their comments follow:
Lori: Oh man, I vividly remember the garlic.
Katie: I also remember being treated to large glasses of apple cider vinegar.
Rebecca: Oh this made me miss Grandpa! The garlic brings back such sweet memories, but it also makes me wonder if I will be a happy old person like Grandpa was. I hope so.
Janice: Ah yes the garlic! I remember it well. I also thought of the olive oil; he believed it saved him from appendicitis and drank it often to prevent all manner of ills!
Shawna: Garlic and olive oil. I remember him expounding on how drinking olive oil was going to make him as old as Methuselah at our dining table in Alaska.
Lori: Yes, Shawna, I remember that! And he’d cackle after he said “MeTHUselah!”
Kelsey: He also ate parsley off the plate because “It’s good for your eyes.”
Katie: My favorite was “Ain’t that right, fellers?” Followed by that cackle.
Ruth: Love, love, love it!!
Oh how we loved this man and his quirks. Happy Birthday, Dad. We miss you.