My own father and I never really clicked, seeing as how two very stubborn and headstrong individuals rarely do when trapped beneath the same roof, but I still remember some things that make me smile.
I remember my father pulling down the high, thick branches of our cherry tree so I could pick cherries and fill a bucket, and I remember taking my sweet old time, not realizing how heavy that branch was, or how much strain it was to hold it down for me to reach. I remember making dinner for him and me one evening when I was really little, and serving him the nastiest tasting coffee that was ever brewed, since I didn’t know how to make it. It probably could have stripped paint off the furniture, but he swallowed it with a mostly straight face, declared it the best coffee he’d ever had, and gingerly set the coffee cup aside, hoping I wouldn’t notice he didn’t touch it again the rest of his dinner. I remember a leather Indian dress he made and beaded for my Barbie doll.
Oh, I could never forget the raise-the-dead battle we had when I bought my first car against his wishes, how we circled like rabid dogs and yelled ourselves hoarse…and how, after we calmed down, he came to me and quietly asked if he could take the little sports car for a spin, and how I just tossed the keys to him and asked him not to take his cigarette into the car. We drove around, and it was like watching a teenage boy with a new car. He always liked cars, fixing them, looking at them, talking about them.
I can’t say that with a little more patience or understanding we ever would have not butt heads like angry rams. In a backward sort of way, I learned a lot of my strength from him, from fighting him, and in an odd way, I am grateful for that.
Happy Father’s Day to Gary, a loving and terrific father. I am proud to love him, and be loved by him, grateful to have met him, and blessed to have him in my life.