The recent passing of a childhood friend’s father had me remembering my own dad, who moved to Heaven in 1997. The earliest memory I have of my dad is of him reading to me. I can picture the book, a collection of fairy tales and fables which had a beige hardcover with red lettering. One of my favorites was “The Brementown Musicians”. I can see in my mind’s eye an illustration of the animals in the story all standing on each other’s backs looking into a window. It is, however, when I think of the story of the three little pigs that I can hear Dad’s voice when the wolf is huffing and puffing and blowing the houses down. There was nothing better as a young child than sitting on Dad’s lap listening to a story. This is perhaps where my love of reading comes from, as well as my love of telling a tale.
Dad was a hard working, soft spoken, gentle man with a quick mind and dry wit. For as long as I can remember he worked 12 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week. When he wasn’t working he was fixing something around the house or on the car, or tinkering around in the basement. He could fix a radio or tv, a toaster, a mixer, even on occasion a vacuum cleaner, and he seemed happy doing it. Although he didn’t graduate from school, he was intelligent and inquisitive, reading books, magazines and newspapers daily. He was as quick with a supportive word as he was with an amusing comment. The best person to sit near at a family reunion was Dad, as he was constantly murmuring comments about the relatives and the conversation. Things that might not be something he’d want anyone involved to hear, but amusing just the same. That same quirky, dry sense of humor lives on in me, although I tend to keep the comments to myself rather than risk saying something that causes hard feelings or an argument. One demonstration of Dad’s sense of humor is evident when I think of some of the television shows he enjoyed. Although I didn’t care for Benny Hill, the program made him roar with laughter as did Monty Python’s Flying Circus. I recall my father and brothers all watching those shows, especially the latter, all together. I guess it’s a guy thing. My husband enjoys that type of humor as well.
It was through my husband that I gained a deeper understanding of my father. Dad was able to help my husband get a job at the same factory where he worked, and so I got to hear stories of how my father interacted with his fellow workers. One of my favorite stories is how Dad and one of his friends used to wish each other happy groundhog’s day every February 2nd. I’m not sure what they found so amusing about it, perhaps there was some joke the two of them shared. I could ask his friend or my husband, but some things I don’t need to know. It made him happy, so I’d just like to say “hey Dad, happy groundhog’s day!”