Posted tagged ‘Parent’

“Mothers are the necessity of invention.”

January 31, 2012

The day is warm by winter’s usual standards. It’s 49°, but there is a little breeze which makes the day feel colder. On days like today I’d love a jacket like the ones I had as a kid. With those, each sleeve had a jersey cuff inside which kept the wind at bay, and all the jackets had hoods attached. Nothing is worse than ears which are red and frozen.

We always walked to school and never thought twice about the weather. Most families had only one car, and it left early to work with the dads. In my neighborhood, the only woman who drove was a widow who had no choice. The other mothers walked to do most of their errands. The only exception was the weekly groceries. It was a Friday tradition in my house for my Dad to drive my mother to the supermarket. I never went, but I’m willing to bet my dad waited in the car. Grocery shopping was a woman’s job.

When I was a kid, there was a clear delineation between household jobs for men and for women. I didn’t know any mother who had an outside job. Every mother in my neighborhood stayed at home and took care of the house and kids. Every morning the fathers, wearing suits and fedoras, drove to work. In the winter they shoveled and switched to snow tires, in the summer they mowed and trimmed the bushes, in the spring they planted and changed tires again and in the fall they raked and burned the leaves. They took down and put up the storm windows. They got the oil in the car changed and picked out every new car. On warm Saturday mornings, they washed those cars. They read the papers on Sunday mornings and watched football on Sunday afternoons. They were the threats our mothers used to keep us in line. Everything else our mothers did.

“His eyes–how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!”

November 22, 2011

Last night was cold, no way getting around it. It was in the mid-30’s, and that sounds an awful lot like winter to me. I watched the Patriots’ game. I could see their breath, and Brady was wearing his hand warmer, more wintry signs. I figured they must be playing somewhere like Green Bay, but no, it was Foxboro.

Today is on and off sunny and for the first time in days there is no wind. My usually quiet street is filled with the sounds of leaf blowers as yards are being cleaned. I heard the sound when I woke up this morning, and it still continues but from another part of the neighborhood.

I did some Christmas shopping this morning in the warmth of my house without a crowd. My fingers did all the work. I’ve been shopping the last couple of days whittling my list, and I haven’t even set foot in a store.

I don’t remember my parents carrying bags or even going Christmas shopping. We were Santa believers so my parents must have hidden stuff in the trunk until we were all in bed then they’d carry the toys inside and stash them in the attic. When I was older, they woke me up when they were bringing stuff down from the attic so I knew that had been a hiding place. Our attic had hidden stairs. You had to take off the cover in the ceiling then pull down the stairs, and, because most of the attic was unfinished, it wasn’t a place we ever explored so it was a perfect hiding spot for Santa toys. I stayed awake a long while that Christmas Eve and even sneaked down the stairs to watch my parents put out the gifts. We were an unwrapped Santa gift family so that year I watched as the toys were being put under and around the tree. My dad would hand something to my mother who would then artistically place it in the right spot. We all knew our spots. They never changed from year to year.

I must have moved and creaked the stairs because my parents finally heard me and sent me back to bed. I know I fell asleep right away, and I know the morning was quick to come.

That year I wasn’t disappointed at having seen a few of my gifts but rather I felt part of a conspiracy of wonder and joy, of seeing my Santas do their magic.

“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”

June 19, 2011

This is from 2010: All I can add is how much I miss him still, each and every day. I cried a bit today filled as I am with memories of my Dad.

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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