Dad's 78th birthday - and more changes ...
So ... Got a new camera and love it. Ordered a new Dell laptop yesterday in Spring Green with a wireless mouse, also in Spring Green. And Nick the 'puter guy is grabbing my data from my old laptop so we can load it when I get the new Dell.
It's just time for changes in my life. As one of my yoga teachers would say "Receive what you have been given." I've been given change and I have to accept and embrace it.
Another change: I had a great phone interview this morning with a company I've been wanting to work for for over a year! We've scheduled an in-person interview for this Monday at 4pm. Gotta buy a new outfit and new shoes, prepare myself for questions they may ask me, and write a list of questions I want to ask them. Wish me luck! I really, really want this one!
Tuesday was Dad's 78th birthday. I had a dinner for him at my place on Sunday complete with birthday cake. My brothers, sister-in-law, daughter and granddaughters were here along with Dad, his wife and her grandchildren. I always love it when our family gets together; it's a lively time with lots of laughter and teasing, great discussions and general fun.
Growing up, I remember Dad being tall and lanky, kinda like Clint Eastwood. He worked two jobs for as long as I could remember to provide for us. On a sunny afternoon, he'd sometimes lie in front of the front door where a pool of warm sunlight spilled onto the carpet. He always worked in the yard shirtless, his skin brown from the sun, sweat beads on his forehead, scars tracing his back. When we learned to ride two-wheelers, he was the one holding onto the bike and running with us until we didn't realize he'd let go and we were peddling on our own. The songs "Hang down your head, Tom Dooley" and "Working in a Coal Mine" always remind me of Dad; I think he sang them when we were little ... or maybe he played them on the radio since I don't remember Dad ever singing.
Dad's not the big, outgoing personality that Mom was. He's what anyone would call "a Good Man", a former Navy man, kind of reticent, hard-working, church-going, faith-filled. Oh, but what a wit! While Mom would be the center of attention with her funny stories, Dad would be standing at the back of the room with me, quipping about this or that and making me bust a gut laughing. He's full of expressions that make me laugh; my cousin laughingly remembers him talking about an unattractive woman as "looking like 40 miles of bad road!" He had a co-worker, Wrigley, that he used to tell stories about. One day, he called Wrigley a different name in the story and I asked him "isn't his name Wrigley?" Dad laughed and said that it wasn't; he called the guy Wrigley because he chewed gum all the time. Dad had names for everyone and I'm sitting here smiling at how he'd make up those names and make us laugh.
Dad worked in a foundry for his day job pouring molten metal. His blue Sears work shirts always had burn holes in them; his back was pocked with burns, too. He never complained. He'd rise very early, have his oatmeal, go to work with a big lunch Mom made for him, come home for a quick nap (the man could sleep at the drop of a hat, anywhere, any time), eat dinner, then head off for his 2nd job. With his and Mom's hard work, I was able to have ballet lessons, ballet costumes, piano lessons; my brother had trumpet lessons and a beautiful silver Besson trumpet. My younger brother was into sports and played in Little League. Whenever I sit down and play piano, I first say a blessing for my Mom and my Dad. Then I play one of my Mom's favorites, knowing that she's smiling in heaven.
If he'd had his druthers, he would've stayed in the Navy. He loved being at sea, being with his fellow seamen, out in the wide ocean with horizons as far as you could see. He served on the USS Ernest G. Small in the Korean War. On October 7, 1951, the ship hit an underwater mine, killing 9 and injuring 18 of Dad's friends. He was below and fortunately wasn't toward the front of the ship which was heavily damaged. The front bow eventually broke off as the ship traveled to safety. It was a tragic event; the ship earned 4 battle stars for her service in the Korean War.
Dad has always loved to swim, too. When my daughter was very young, we went with Mom and Dad to Hawaii and Dad spent hours in the water, floating on his back, the sun glistening on the water around him. He'd been stationed in Hawaii during his service and I remember a small glossy black-and-white print of Diamond Head that he had, along with other photos of him and his mates mugging for the camera.
I so love my Dad! The first man I ever loved, so good, so patient. Mom used to say that the only arguments they ever had were about us kids; Mom was the disciplinarian and Dad was the softie. Maybe because he was working so much and didn't get to/have to spend the time with us that Mom did? I loved to spend time with Dad growing up. Mom would try to teach me the home arts: cooking, embroidery, crocheting. I wasn't very good and she wasn't very patient, so she'd very quickly get upset and tell me to "go out in the yard and help your Dad!" Now, although I can't cook or sew, I'm a pretty good gardener and love to spend time in my little garden, thanks to Dad.
Dad could be a romantic. A friend of mine told me recently that she's always cherished the memory of seeing Mom and Dad holding hands when they'd attend our band or drill team events or football games. (They attended everything we ever did, and we were very busy in high school!) Her parents didn't do that and she always wished that they were more like my parents. I always remember Mom and Dad holding hands as we walked into church each Sunday, too.
A few years after Mom crossed over, Dad remarried. He has a busy life with his wife; they have a second home in the desert that they're always working on, and are very busy raising three of her grandkids. It was odd at first to think of Dad raising another family, but the kids are really good to him and help him out a lot.
As busy as they are, I don't get to see Dad a lot, but I call him each week and we talk and laugh. He still makes those quips that send me into gales of laughter and I can visualize his eyes twinkling on his end of the line. When he was here on Sunday, I gave him a long, tight hug to let him know how much I love him. Happy birthday, Dad! And may God grant you many more!