Fragments of my father
My relationship with my father was, and is, so limited. But it’s not all good or all bad. Something positive my father gave me, are a lot of funny stories. He was shameless and in many ways such a strange man that public embarrassment was something that happened to our family, on a pretty regular basis. LOL And i will share a few stories, here, in that regard. But this really is, just the tip of the iceberg.
My Dad invited our piano teacher and his new bride, over for dinner. My sister and i were miffed about his new bride, as we both had a hopeless crush on our piano teacher, he was so handsome and dreamy. My mother worked hard to prepare a perfect meal for the newlyweds (even though she hated having company over at HER house). Little did we know that dad had a prank up his sleeve. So in the middle of dinner, my dad goes, “Achoo!” and it appeared that a long string of snot was dangling precariously from his prominent nose. My mother was mortified, as was the piano teachers wife, of whom, exclaimed, “Oh Mike!” and handed him a napkin while politely averting her gaze. Then my Dad bursts out laughing and pulls the snot out of his nose, holding it up proudly for all of us to see, explaining that he made it with a glue gun, it was just melted glue he had fashioned into fake snot. He was so proud of himself. Dinner was just a wee bit awkward after that!
I remember a Christmas when my parents let us open up one present on Christmas Eve. That particular year, my sister and i wanted a Mr. Microphone. We were so excited, to see, wrapped under the tree, two presents shaped in the shape of a microphone. My sister and i looked at each other and then bolted for those two presents, under the tree. We were so excited. We tore open our packages and to our huge disappointment, discovered an empty toilet paper roll with an orange taped to the top of it. My dad laughed and laughed because he had tricked us into using our one gift opening selection on a fake gift and we fell for it, hook, line and sinker. After that, we were very suspicious of any obvious presents, under the tree.
On another, more endearing occasion, we were allowed to style our dads hair, any way we wanted. We rolled his baby fine hair into pink curlers, he looked ridiculous but we had so much fun being little hair stylists.
Going back further into my childhood memory, i remember my dad was allergic to exercise, but he always remained thin. He watched what he ate, but hated to physically exert himself. So when we were younger, he would take us to the park and say he was going to chase us, then he would get behind us a ways and stomp his feet, shouting, “here i come, you better run!” And we would race ahead of him as fast as we could. But every time we stopped and turned around, he was in still standing in the same spot. LOL
And i vividly remember hearing my father in my sisters room, pretending to punch out the monsters in her closet, so she wouldn’t be afraid anymore and could go to sleep.
In the earlier years, he did try. I also remember the rare precious occasion when he would sit my sister and i to the left and right of him and read us a bedtime story. He always did agreat job with the character voices.
And i was so incredibly touched, when after a very traumatic event in my life, he bought me flowers, took me out to a really nice restaurant and patched up the holes in my stuffed koala bear, Katie, using a pair of his socks to make the patches.
On the flip side, (and seriously, i can look back on it, NOW, with a sense of humor), i remember when our family would go boating for two weeks in the San Juan Islands, in the summer. When we were close to shore my dad would toss my sister and i into a little dingy with a long rope and have us row to shore by ourselves. He could not get rid of us, fast enough! LOL. At the time, it made us feel like fearless explorers, really grown up, we met some VERY interesting people along the way! And beach-combing became quite the adventure!
I have fond memories of living in Phoenix, Arizona, and my dads bright red Triumph SpitFire Convertible. He’d throw us in the back seat, with the top down and we would zoom all over the neighborhood in that car, my sister and i giggling and screaming with glee.
The shameless part of my father… when i was a teenager, shopping at the mall was a rare treat! Even rarer, my Dad taking me to the mall. So we were in the mall and i don’t even remember for what. But my dad asked me what i would do if someone started cat-calling at me. And i said, i wouldn’t even turn around, i would ignore them and just keep walking. So we went our separate ways to shop and sometime later, i hear, from behind me a cat call whistle and a, “WOW!”. I turned bright red, picked up the pace and kept facing forward and then it happened again! Embarrassed, i turned around and there is my Dad and an elderly couple just behind him, disgusted by his behavior, especially after i said, “DAD! Don’t do that to me!” I was mortified! They, of course, did not know he was joking and thought his behavior despicable. My dad’s response, “I knew you’d turn around!” One of his many social experiments.
My father didn’t care how he looked and always left the clothing and wardrobe up to the woman in his life. But he was particular about his comfort level. I never saw him wear jeans. Even when he worked on the car, he wore a suit. But he wore his suit pants several sizes too big, with suspenders to hold them up, they looked like clown pants with a big flat space where his arse should be. He says it was more comfortable that way. And rather then dress shoes, he wore sneakers, because, those too, were more comfortable. And rather than a nice men’s dress hat, he wore an ugly ratty fisherman’s hat because, again, he said it was more comfortable. But the fashion parade didn’t end there. He also had a super thick, packed to the gills, pocket protector. He would be lost without it! LOL
My dad couldn’t sing, but he sure tried to, he was so bad, in fact, that his vocal coach refunded ALL of his money and washed her hands of him. My mother banished him to the basement to play his trumpet (i must confess it was a bit annoying). But he played the guitar beautifully, could belt out the blues on his harmonica and was a good violinist, playing classical music.
So my memories of my father are a mixture of dark comedy, quirky humorous episodes and some heart pangs with a few endearing highlights here and there. Writing about him gets me so emotional… so many mixed memories…
There was a darker side to my childhood, a more haunting aspect of life with my father… i share them here, in the companion piece to this journal entry,
Not fatherless, but fatherless . . .