“It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.”

My memories are filled with my Dad today, and my heart is filled to the brim with missing him, but when I close my eyes, I see him so clearly.

It’s a warm day so he’d be sitting on the front steps with his coffee cup reading the paper. He’d have on a t-shirt and maybe his blue shorts. He’d wave at the neighbors going by in their cars. They all knew him and would honk back. He loved being retired, and we were glad he had a few years of just enjoying life.

This is from 2010. I doubt I could improve upon these “Dad” stories.

Father’s Day gives me the chance to use my whole posting to talk about my Dad. He was the funniest guy, mostly on purpose but lots of times by happenstance. We used to have Dad stories, all those times when we roared and he had no idea why. He used to laugh along with us and ask, “What did I say? What did I say?” We were usually laughing too hard to tell him.

I know you’ve heard this before, but it is one of my favorite Dad stories. He, my mom and I were in Portugal. I was driving. My dad was beside me. On the road, we had passed many piggyback tandem trucks, some several trucks long. On the back of the last truck was always the sign Vehiculo Longo. We came out of a gas station behind one of those. My father nonchalantly noted, “That guy Longo owns a lot of trucks.” I was laughing so hard I could barely drive and my mother was roaring.

My father wasn’t at all handy around the house. Putting up outside lights, he gave himself a shock which knocked him off his step ladder. He once sawed himself out of a tree by sitting on the wrong end of the limb. The bookcase he built in the cellar had two shelves, one on the floor and the other too high to use. He said it was lack of wood. When painting the house once, the ladder started to slide, but he stayed on his rung anyway with brush in hand. The stroke of the paint on the house followed the path of his fall. Lots of times he set his shoe or pant leg on fire when he was barbecuing. He was a big believer in lots of charcoal lighter fluid.

My father loved games, mostly cards. We played cribbage all the time, and I loved making fun of  his loses, especially if I skunked him. When he won, it was superb playing. When I won, it was luck. I remember so many nights of all of us crowded the kitchen table playing cards, especially hi-lo jack. He loved to win and we loved lording it over him when he lost.

My father was a most successful businessman. He was hired to turn a company around and he did. He was personable and funny and remembered everyone’s names. Nobody turned him down.

My father always went out Sunday mornings for the paper and for donuts. He never remembered what kind of donut I like. His favorite was plain. He’d make Sunday breakfast when I visited: bacon, eggs and toast. I can still see him standing over the stove with a dish towel over his shoulders. He always put me in charge of the toast.

If I ever needed anything, I knew I could call my father. He was generous. When we went out to eat, he always wanted to pay and was indignant when we one upped him by setting it up ahead of time that one of us would pay. One Christmas he gave us all $500.oo, not as a gift but to buy gifts.

My father left us when he was far too young. It was sudden. He had a heart attack. I had spoken with him just the day before. It was pouring that day, and I told him how my dog Shauna was soaked. He loved that dog and told me to wipe his baby off. I still remember that whole conversation.

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19 Comments on ““It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.””

  1. Bob Says:

    Thanks for that wonderful remembrance of your father.

    My father and I had a more rocky relationship. My father would not change his mind once he made it up regardless of the facts. He worked hard to support my sister and I but was an absentee parent much of the time since he was a traveling salesman. When he retired he became a curmudgeon who took up cooking and baking as a hobby. He experimented for years trying to bake NY bagels at home in Dallas unsuccessfully. He finally decided the problem was that he needed NY City water.

    Unfortunately, neither of us could remember how real ones tasted because neither of us had eaten one in many years. He thought he was the male version of Julia Childs, but most of his meals were eaten by friends and family who were trying to be polite. He could smoke wonderful pork ribs and brisket in his backyard smoker.

    My dad bought a freezer and decided that he could keep meat, which he bought when marked down, frozen for a hundred years without harm. He read somewhere that a Wooly Mammoth’s meat was eaten by explorers who found it frozen in a glacier. Unfortunately, my dad contracted Cardio Myopathy from an unknown pathogen that weakened his heart. I once suggested to him that old frozen meat could have been the source of the infection. He would argue that I didn’t know what I was talking about even though I showed him evidence from the Iowa Beef Packers Association that proved that beef had a limited storage time even when frozen.

    He did teach me how to throw and catch a ball, he did provide me with the money to get an education and he drove me crazy until the day he passed away ten years ago. I guess the job of a father is to drive his son crazy so that the son will leave the house for his own home, own career and start a family of his own. Then he can drive his own son crazy. If you don’t believe me just ask my 15 year old son.

    • Kat Says:

      My father was so similar to yours about making up his mind. He never let the facts interfere with his arguments. We went at each other constantly when it came to politics, and I found his bull-headedness frustrating at times. We finally agreed to disagree and stop talking politics which made life between us so much easier. He could never understand, though, how a conservative gave birth to four liberals.

      My dad was the go to it barbecue man, and he always cooked the meat to perfection. He’d sit outside and have a pop or two while he cooked. I’d sometimes go out and keep him company, and we’d chat.

      The freezer story was amazing and I saw my father there too, not with the freezing but the standing his guns despite evidence.

      My father, mother and I traveled together, and we always had a great time. I remember those trips so very well!

      • Bob Says:

        I think there is a common thread that runs through the men who survived the great depression and the second world war and produced the boomer generation.

      • katry Says:

        I think you’re right!

  2. Hedley Says:

    And so I wait for the kids, who are not children, and the Prince

    I biked with a rather breathless Big Rick and offered Guiness to celebrate the day, Van Morrison is in the air and I wait

    this afternoon, two countries from the group of death will be going home and I will watch. some jubilant Greek fans were interviewed this morning by the BBC…How did you celebrate ? Asked the Beeb, “all night with the Polish ladies” said the Greek fans. Wonderful.

    Happy Father’s Day, remember with generosity and celebrate your family.

    • Kat Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      You’re always a kid to your parents no matter how old you are! It wll be the same for the Prince and his father.

      Love the Greek celebration!

      I hope you and Big Rick had a wonderful ride this morning!

      My father is right with me today and my memories are filled with him.

  3. olof1 Says:

    I think we celebrate Father’s Day in November, I’m not sure since I can’t remember ever celebrating it.

    But I love these stories of Your father 🙂

    Have a great day!

    • Kat Says:

      My father was a funny guy, and I miss him dearly. He died far too young. I always think it was unfair.

  4. Zoey & Me Says:

    Nice post again of the Dad you loved. My Dad died young too considering life spans today. Choked on a chicken bone. I think of him often and today looked at photos from days going back to even WWII. I sent my kids photos of when they were toddlers with me in the picture. My comments were priceless. At least I didn’t get any ties.

    • Kat Says:

      My Dad also died too young. He should have had several years ahead of him. He used to joke he wanted to go quickly then wheeled down the street to the cemetery at the end of his road. He died of a sudden heart attack. I won’t ever forget that day.

  5. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    Lovely remembrance of you father. I love the story about hanging on to the paint brush as he fell.
    My father tried several times to teach me cribbage but the rules never stuck. I could never remember how to count. Oddly enough, cribbage is how I remember the count for CPR. And I still have his cribbage board even though I have no idea how to use it.
    It’s a perfect day up here. Sunny with a cool breeze. Enjoy the rest of your day.

    • Kat Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      My dad and I played cribbage all over Europe when we travelled. My mother would sit in the room with us and read. I learned cribbage by watching him play, and I ended up to be a good player.

      He and I would play game after game sitting at the kitchen table, If I won, we’d play until he did.

      It was sunny and cool here as well. I was out on the deck until the music from the house behind me drove me inside-it was loud enough to fill an arena!

      • Hedley Says:

        Caryn and Kat
        Add me to the cribbage group. My Grandfather loved the game and spent endless hours with me. I pretty much blanked on the scoring and rules but I still have his cribbage board.
        He was a very cool Grandpa

  6. Kat Says:

    My friend Jay and I still play. I think we are the only ones who do.

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  8. lilydark Says:

    I love the stories of your father. I can’t believe after all these years, yesterday I found out something I really believed for 28 years. I always thought every father’s day was the day of my dad’s funeral –because the first one was. When people told me this simply couldn’t be true, I argued with them. Yesterday, I told my neighbor this story, and she argued with me. I refused to agree. As I went into the house, I went to call my aunt to wish her a happy birthday, and it hit me her birthday was on father’s day, and I had been wrong all these years. I don’t know why. I know intellectually that it is impossible, but….
    While we often fought, the very last words I said to my dad were ” I love you”.

    • Kat Says:

      Usually funerals are not held on Sundays so it would surprise me if it really was. The date changes from year to year. My guess is the death of your father was traumatic so you mixed up your memories.

      That is a wonderful last memory!

      • lilydark Says:

        Yes, it was held on a Sunday… a jewish funeral so his body could be shipped back to N.J. My sister had annoyed my father by saying she couldn’t spend father’s day with him. She lost.

  9. Kat Says:

    She totally lost!

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