Father’s Day is an odd event when you no longer have a father. It’s a mix of feelings of love, and loss, and a little bit of jealousy, too, perhaps. Especially in today’s world of Facebook “bragging”.
I read an article online about father’s day without your father. It shared an interesting “angle” to think about. So, I’ve spent the day chewing on the idea that I can change my perspective about father’s day and look at it with fresh eyes. I can be grateful that I am somehow like my dad and that I carry him in my habits, things that he taught me to love. With me daily. Present.
My father died 30 years ago and I struggle to remember him. I don’t have a good sense of how I am like him. I know I loved going to the grocery store with him on occasion because he’d buy the pink pistachios that we both loved. I ate most of them. Dad was a workaholic attorney. He’d come home at the end of the day, take off his jacket and tie, unbutton the top button of his (always) starched white shirt, have a drink and dinner and retire to the den to read the evening paper. He wasn’t much for chit-chat or TV. He believed in “early to bed, early to rise”. He loved his vegetable garden when he was younger … I love to eat vegetables. I hated “having to” weed. I have a cassette tape with his voice on it, I’d love to hear him speak again. (Anybody still have a tape player?)
When I shared the idea of the article with Ned, he got tears in his eyes. He was only ten when his dad died of a sudden heart attack. He really never knew his father. He’s heard stories over the years from his sister and from Maine neighbors and friends. Eddie was born in Maine, his uncle owned this property originally. Eddie bought it in the 40s. He was a restaurant-owner, a very social guy by all accounts. He loved race horses and he loved to have a drink with the neighbors here. He and Ned’s mom threw a lot of parties (which Helen remembered were a lot of work). We had a Fourth of July party one summer and invited all of our neighbors (many of whom we’d never met). One of the guys gave Ned a lighter that Eddie had given him when he was a teenager. The lighter was from Eddie’s diner (the Tastee Diner is still in business in Maryland). It had been a cherished memory for Carl and it touched Ned deeply. His sister remembers more about their father and her stories are wonderful to hear. We know they both liked to cook and they like a good cocktail.
I am grateful for the memories of my dad that I have: Walking around the yard picking up sticks, smelling the branches of a birch that smells like root beer. Feeding the birds. Going to the office with him on Saturday and going to the “automat” in his building. Sitting next to him in the car on the way to church on Sunday morning, the first “I see church” would win you a penny. He’d drop us off for Sunday school, sit in the car reading his paper and smoke cigarettes, on the way home we’d listen to “Your Box at the Opera” on the radio.
Our dads both loved Maine. We have that in common. I’m quite sure that both of our dads are happy we’re here.
P.S. – My mom did not love Maine. With three little kids pre-disposable-diapers with the nearest washing machine down the road a piece, no dryer besides a clothes line in the yard, and dad on the phone to the office or reading the paper … maybe this is why?