Father’s Day is rolling around again. It’s one of those time’s each year when I miss my dad who died 16 years ago. It’s also that time when I wish my poor son didn’t have to be the only adult in his relationship with his father. I am glad, though, that my son had my father to help shape the first 10 years of his life. Here are some of my (and my son’s) memories of my Dad and his Grandpa.
- Yes. I was his Pumpkin, his Pumpkin Pie and his Princess….but so were my other two sisters. It didn’t matter, we loved our nicknames.
- For all of his girls, Dad made sure we received a dozen roses on our 16th birthday with a card that said “From Your Secret Admirer.” By the time I turned 16, I knew it was Dad who was giving the roses, but I was still so excited to get mine. Roses were expensive and we knew it and appreciated our Dad even more for the lovely gift.
- My father was a Chef and could make any meal delicious. He also spoiled us by making us our favorite meals. When I was in college and working part-time, he would call me before I left work to find out what I wanted for dinner and by the time I got home, Chicken Cordon Bleu or some other wonderful creation would be waiting for me. When my parents took care of my son, I would pick him up after work and they would ask if I wanted to eat with them and always (and I mean always) tell me the meal was meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy with green beans. I was so sick of that meal and asked my Dad why he didn’t cook any of the wonderful meals I remembered from growing up. He looked at me seriously and said, “It’s what your son wanted for dinner.” Yes, my son’s desires had moved ahead of mine as far as my father was concerned.
- Bread. Fresh made bread. Oh, how I loved the aroma of his bread baking in the oven. Hot butter melting on a fresh slice of bread? The best!
- Fried chicken. My Dad made the best fried chicken and I’ve never been able to duplicate his recipe. And my Dad’s fried chicken is forever tied in my memories to the Catskill Game Farm. (5 points if you’ve been there and 10 if you can sing the jingle.) Once a summer, he would pack the kids in the car and a picnic lunch in the trunk, a picnic lunch that he got up before 5am to make for us. I don’t know whether I liked the animals or the fried chicken better!
- When my father was 69, he ended up in a wheelchair for the last 10 years of his life. My son, who saw Grandpa as a playmate would beg him to go upstairs to his playroom at his Grandparents house. He stood at the top of the stairs and called to his Grandpa to come and play and when Grandpa said he couldn’t because he couldn’t get up the stairs anymore, my son stood at the top and encouraged him calling “You Can do It Grandpa.” That was all it took for my father to crawl out of the wheelchair, sit on the stairs and then push himself up one stair at a time. This phrase also got my son to go see sailboats when Grandpa was too tired to drive the thirty minutes to the coast and to all the miniature golf courses around the state so my son could play with his Grandma.
- Thanksgiving dinners. My father put on Thanksgiving before and after he ended up in a wheelchair. Our family loved these meals. I swear the best turkey I ever had came from my father (don’t tell my husband I said that!) His last act of love for us was to talk my nephew and brother through making the meal the way that he would. He died two weeks later. I still miss him.
Thanks for indulging me by reading our memories of my father. He was a smart man, who took a class whenever he wanted to learn something new. Need to draw up blueprints for the house he wanted to build? Took a class. Wanted to know more about politics? Took a class. And when computers were starting to become big, and he wanted to know how to use them? He took a class. My father was a Renaissance Man who could build a house, loved the Opera, played soccer in High School, worked in factories and in restaurants, could make the most delicate flowers out of buttercream when he was decorating a cake and then go dig the stones out of the ground in order to add to his garden. (And yes, my laptop got wet in the making of this post.)
I’d love to hear your memories of your Dad.
And for Catskill Game Farm lovers out there, you can go back and walk the abandoned park or sign up to take a class on photographing abandoned places.