I wrote this last year, and never got up the nerve to post it.
It's about time :)
With Thanksgiving bounding its way toward me, holding pie and ham and mashed potatoes in its friendly orange arms, I thought I'd write a little post about what I'm thankful for about who my Dad was.
I've got to start off by saying: yes, my dad was abusive. They say you're not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but it's the truth and there's just no getting around it. We all still hurt. Still, not to excuse his behavior or anything, but he was hurt pretty stinking badly in his life too. And hurt people hurt people. I feel like all I do is talk about the hurt, but my dad was actually a pretty cool guy and he deserves better. So here's my list:
He used to take us all religiously every year (unless we decided to swap it out for a state fair outing) and those were some of the best times of my little kid years. Dad was a ride nut. Rollercoasters, space shot, spinny rides, flying rides, water rides... and his enthusiasm was highly contagious. Just ask the Knittels. Has anyone been on the Der Flinger? The one where you swoop up and down in a circle in this white car deals? Well, he always told me to throw my arms out and pretend I was flying. He "whooo" noises on any ride were loud and unashamed. I don't think his arms stayed down much at Adventureland. He took me on my first rollercoaster (and being a wimp it took me a while to try one) at Arnold's Park in Okoboji. Sitting in front of him on the log ride going over a big hill was a mistake though because his large self would lurch forward and squish you. That was unintentional :) I can just remember his smiling bearded face. Amusement parks held good memories for him from his childhood.
In case you're wondering where I got my tendency to be a drama freak, it's from dad. And mom. And grandma. But of my parents, Dad was the one who "made it big", so to speak. He was with a traveling theater group called the Everyman Players for a few years and they traveled ALL OVER the U.S. I wish I could hear more stories. His favorite play they did was Pilgrim's Progress, and he played all the villians apparently. Once he was inside the giant Apollyon monster costume with one other guy and they almost fell on top of some audience members because of foor marking tape mistake. That must have been an exciting night!
Daddy had a pretty baritone voice. Everybody thought so. He was always singing, and he had these kooky songs he'd make up about Stu and I. They were tongue-twisting and full of madeup words. Actually, his "songs" were more affectionate than a lot of his words. I'd be in a room and he'd automatically launch into one. It was cozy.
When I was one years old or so, Dad was a little chubby. I dubbed his stomach "the watermelon" and one of my favorite games was to try to "climb the mountain". This was a very exciting game!
Climb the Mountain morphed into Dad throwing a blanket over his entire self (this was a huge, lumpy, slippery blanket) on the couch, and Stu and I would clamber all over him.
He made good food. Pancakes and waffles and apple pies and so many other good things. He was the official cook in our family and did all of the grocery shopping (very frugally and with fervor). Sometimes I'd get up early and help him by making scrambled eggs in the microwave. And once I went strawberry picking with him at the berry patch. Best day ever!
Dad really liked vacations and we took a lot of good ones. One time he drove us out east to see Niagara Falls. We spent three hours in Canada and once in NY stayed in a Hilton Hotel that he'd gotten a good deal on. Man, was it posh! We were on the 40-some-odd floor and they had a "waterfall" on a glass wall in the pool area and a tall waterslide. We camped in the Pokenoes (brrrr) and saw my cousin graduate. He was the one who instilled an unquenchable love of travel in Stu and I, and I'm thankful he valued it so much.
Thanks, Dad. I can't wait to see the "New You", soon, with all the good stuff and none of the bad. I can't wait to hug you. You gave REALLY good hugs.
- Your "Fine Girl"