Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #34 Remembering Daddy

Because Tuesday was my Dad's birthday and this weekend is Memorial Day, I am remembering my Daddy with today's TT. I open with a repeat of the picture and poem I wrote and posted for him on the anniversary of his passing last September.

The Summer I was seven.
Those Were the Days
by Joy Renee
Those were the days
When the sky blushed blue;
When the grass grinned green;
When birds sang true.
Those were the days
Love groomed my heart;
Trust bloomed my spirit;
Joy grew unfettered.
Those were the days
My soul sang Gloria;
My eyes saw clear;
My dreams soared.
Those were the days,
I was Daddy's delight;
I was Mama's eyeshine;
I was little brother's guide;
I was baby sister's glee.
Thirteen Memories of my Dad and me:
1. I remember standing in my crib repeating after Daddy: My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me....and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
I remember him accompanying the words with a motion of plucking something invisible out of one palm with the fingers of his other hand and then putting it back.
Dad would probably have been completely befuddled to have known that I thought he was speaking in the first person singular. That he had sheep who heard his voice and followed him about like Mary's little lamb. I also imagined I was a little lamb who could not be plucked out of my Daddy's hand.
2. When I was about three our family went camping with his brother's family near a lake. I am remembering the name White Horse for some reason but I don't know if that was the name of the lake, the camp ground, a nearby town or a toy one of my cousins had with them that day. It was somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, most likely southern Washington or Northern Oregon. This was in the early sixties.
I remember this grassy slope and feeling perfect delight in it. My cousins were rolling down it, which I had been forbidden to do. So instead I started running. Ah, the joy of running down a hill. Possibly my joy in running began that day. It is certain that it is my first clear memory of associating delight with running.
I remember the sound of my Daddy's and my Uncle's voices calling to me to stop. I remember intentionally ignoring them. I was getting close to the bottom where the ankle high grass suddenly got taller than me when suddenly I was swooped into the air and was looking down on my Daddy's face from over the top of my Uncle's head.
I remember feeling disconcerted that I could not interpret Daddy's expression. But from today's adult viewpoint, I am pretty sure it was a combination of emotions vying for dominance along with the exertion of running, for he hadn't quite caught up with his taller, more athletic brother. Fear and relief were probably the two strongest. for I can now interpret the view I had from atop my Uncle's shoulders. A shimmering carpet of sky and clouds rolled out from the other side of that tall grass which I had not quite reached. That tall grass which was probably growing in the water at the edge of that lake.
3. A year or so after that incident, I was running circles around my Daddy who was lying on the living room floor shortly after arriving home from work. I was trying to get him to play but he was groaning that he was too tired. I remember hearing Mom's voice coming from the direction of the kitchen, calling out that someone was going to get hurt.
I remember Daddy reached an arm up to grab me but I dodged it and then tumbled to the floor. My screams catapulted him off the floor. He carried me into their bed. I saw tears in his eyes. Shortly he was bundling me in the quilt off my bed and handing me to my mother in the front seat of the car.
I remember them showing me the X-ray of my collar bone which was shaped like an A and somebody saying it looked like a broken pencil.. It was my left shoulder and I had to wear a sling for weeks. This event taught me my right from my left.
4. I remember the ritual of unlacing and pulling Daddy's work boots off in the evenings and giving him a foot massage.
5. I remember kneeling as a family around Mom and Dad's bed for bedtime prayers.
6. I remember carrying asbestos shingles one by one from a pile on the edge of the carport roof up the slope of the peaked part of the roof and handing them to Dad who laid them in place a drove nails into them. Not sure of my age but those shingles were longer than my arms, which made lifting them high enough not to trip on them as I walked up the slope quite a challenge.
7. I remember a snowball fight with Daddy in the front yard. My sister was a toddler in a red one piece snowsuit so I couldn't have been much older than nine.
8. I remember playing softball on week-ends in the high-school parking lot which abutted our back yard.
9. I remember driving lessons with Dad when I was sixteen. The car was a Buick Electra and handled like the Star Ship Enterprise in dry dock. Dad's nervousness escalated mine.
10. I remember Dad taking me out to a fancy restaurant for my sixteenth birthday and being served a crab cocktail which I'd never heard of before.
11. I remember standing in a huddle with my siblings and Daddy on the furnace grate in our living room on cold mornings with the hot air blowing up my night gown as we all waited for Mama to call breakfast.
12. I remember the sound of Dad's adding machine, accompanying my attempts to sleep, deep into the night as he did the books for home and church.
I remember from as early as fifth grade, operating that ten-key mechanical adding machine, inputting, as Dad dictated, the numbers and command functions--plus, minus, times, divide--and pulling down the handle and reading off the answer. And No, he did not let me do my math homework with it. *sigh*
13. I remember the long talks Dad and I had on numerous occasions throughout the early nineties as we both attempted to come to terms with the implosion of the fundamentalist sect which my Mother and I had been raised in and he'd been involved with since high-school. As we each embarked on personal spiritual quests, we shared angst and anger, verses and insight, questions and contemplations and prayer.
Our paths diverged in the late nineties to the point where it became difficult for me to continue those talks--I thought out of deference to Him because I had removed my assent from more doctrines than he had and feared being an undue influence on him. Or as we would have put it: A stumbling block to another's faith..
But if I have one regret since his passing, it is that I stopped encouraging those talks. I came to understand it was partly out of fear of disappointing him. And I suspect the cessation of those talks were a bigger disappointment to him than knowing the truth about what I believed would have been. I also suspect our paths had not diverged as much as I thought.
I'm so sorry Daddy.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. The Rock Chick 2. Susan Helene Gottfried 3. Kristin 4. L^2 5. Jenny McB 6. Rhian / Crowwoman 7. Tink

(leave your link in comments, I'll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

8 tell me a story:

The Rock Chick 5/24/2007 12:53 PM  

What a beautiful post. Especially the ending. I think it takes all of us way to long to realize that our parents love us really no matter what we do or believe.

My father passed away when I was young and it was his birthday (and mine) this past Tuesday. Your post really hit home for me.

Hugs-Jessica The Rock Chick

Susan Helene Gottfried 5/24/2007 1:41 PM  

That's a really gorgeous post, Joy Renee. Your dad was a hell of a man.

Anonymous,  5/24/2007 1:55 PM  

It sounds like your dad would have been a great person to know!

Have a happy and reflective TT!

L^2 5/24/2007 3:45 PM  

Beautiful post to remember your Dad. It sounds like he was a wonderful person.

Thanks for visiting my TT.

Jenny McB 5/24/2007 5:17 PM  

What a nice tribute to your Dad.

Rhian 5/25/2007 4:34 AM  

what a great tribute to you dad! Also - i liked the poem. You should hop on our Monday Poetry Train!!

Tink 5/27/2007 1:54 PM  

Beautiful... moved me to tears!
Thanks for visiting my Google TT; sorry I'm this late in responding.

Anonymous,  5/28/2007 6:28 PM  

Having lost my father, this post brought back so many memories for me also. Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed reading this very much. May his memory be eternal, as we Greeks say.

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