Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Dad, Late

My dad has always been my hero. A handsome hero, with whom I always butted heads, And yet today he is still one of my best friends. My father taught me that there is nothing I can not do if I can imagine it in my head. It is an ideal that has served me well through out my life.

Raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia to a mean, good for nothing, alcoholic farmer, from a good family, my dad probably shouldn’t have raised above his beginnings. I am so blessed he did. My dad has never forgotten those beginnings. Wears them like an albatross at times and hates the phrases “you might be a redneck” and “hillbilly.”

a really cute picture of my
dad at age 6 should go
here but it wouldn't load

The baby of eight children, my father was oft times raised by an older sister who also made well of herself despite the performance of her parents (she is my favorite aunt, an eclectic character of esoteric thought and beliefs.) My grandparents often left their children to fend for themselves. I kid you not, once when my father was about four they left the four youngest children (the other four we off to their own lives) alone at home for over a week with no food in the house, save a pot of soured beans. My dad once told me of a time, my drunken grandfather beat a mule to death with a chain. He was not a pleasant man, and my grandmother (for whom I am name) followed my grandfather wherever he went. My father, in turn, does not drink to excessive. I think his limit was about four beers a summer, never more than two at a time.

I remember my dad taking me to my first horse race. I’m not sure but I think it was at
Santa Anita. I remember him wearing a white shirt and a tie, his flat top hair cut, intently watching each race. I was about five and at one point so impressed with my surroundings and my father’s intentness at each race I jumped into the frenzy.

With the start of each race I would start shouting for my horse to go faster, screaming, “Go Joe, Go Joe.”

My father leaned over to me and asked which horse I was rooting for? I remember pointing out some mount from the field, and my dad saying, “Good choice, that’s my horse to.”

My father never graduated from high school, shit, high school ended at the tenth grade. This sits hard on my father, who suffers from anxieties over his belief he is unworthy, because he is unschooled. Rubbish. Regardless of the tremendous strides and accomplishments my father has made, he doesn’t feel he meets the mark.

Example, through out my childhood there was always a boat in the garage in some stage of construction. From the upside down frame of a hull to the itchy spider web of fiberglass, to the almost finished product that was moved to the front yard my dad was building. The Three D’s (Debbie, Dale, and Denise,) the Four D’s (& Darryl,) the Sea Horse (my dad loved racing.) My dad had a boat. A boat he built himself, on evenings and weekends. When the boat was finished we went fishing. Till he sold it and built another.

When I was a junior in high school my dad quit working for Southern California Edison, cashed out his stock and my parents bought a trailer park in Oregon. Always strapped for cash in those early days he cut firewood, picked moss, sold and serviced as a propane dealer until they modernized the park and it became a viable business.

Boats were a thing of the past, now it was planes. For years there was an ultralight in some phase of construction in the garage. The hull became a fuselage, sometimes made of wood framing another time made of foam, duly wrapped in fiberglass, sanded with love. Painted, polished, flown, and on at least two counting the water landing I guess three...crashed.

Today my dad, my hero is in the advanced stages of emphysema. We have been blessed with extra years with him for which I am grateful.

He is now grounded, but I know he still longs to soar in the sky. And I know someday all to soon he will with his own wings. Until that day dad, I hope you know what a special angel you have been to me on this earth. Thank you for the laughter, the adventures, the debates, advice, conversations, friendship, tears, and love. Most of all thank you for not holding my idiocy against me and for allowing me to become me.


JulieAnn said...

That was touching and beautiful. Thank you for sharing...


Cele said...

Thank you for the kind words Julieanne, it was your own tribute to your father that humbled me. I wanted the world to know about my wonderful father, so I followed your lead.