Friday, April 29, 2011

The Good Stuff

My Dad died 3 days before Sister's 30th birthday. When Mom told us she thought it was time to call hospice she said "I just hope he doesn't go on Saturday." Sister's response was "Well, if he does, that'll just be the day I remember all the good stuff." I remember thinking she had a great perspective on it.

When we were kids Mom worked every other weekend. 7a-3p. And when she worked, Dad took care of us. I never felt like a burden, I never felt in the way, nothing like that. It was simply a part of being a Dad for him. It was what His Girls needed from him at that time, and he did what it took. During those weekends, he often put us in the truck and did whatever he wanted to do. If he wanted to go to his buddy Ed's car shop and hang out, we went to Ed's. If he wanted to go to the coffee shop, we went to the coffee shop. There was some kind of store downtown that had an old soda pop fountain counter and sold model train stuff in the back half. The soda pop fountain side had a candy counter. We were allowed to pick one item per visit. I almost always picked Sixlets. Sometimes we would sit on the stools and see how fast we could get ourselves to spin. Sometimes we stood next to the stools and spun them as fast as we could. I never remember being reprimanded for any of that. But then we were often the only people in the place, or sometimes a friend or two of Dad's would be there.

I remember this one time, he took me to A Bar! A bar that is still here in Janesville. And I can remember sitting on that barstool with a shirley temple in front of me sitting so proud because I was in such a grown-up place. What I didn't know until probably college was that Mom got very angry at Dad for taking me to A Bar! I told that story at Dad's wake.

My sister and I both remember riding around in a black and gold truck Dad used to have that had a tape deck in it. And he had this one tape we always asked for that had Down In The Boondocks on it.

It also had this song Cinnamon on it. We both remember jamming out to that song and just loving that time spent driving around with Dad.

When I was 16 Dad started teaching me to drive. He took me out in his full-size truck. 5 blocks from home he said "You see that pedal on the floor on the right?" "Yeah." "It's the gas. You can put your foot on it and make us go a little faster."

I don't remember my Dad ever spanking me once. I only remember him getting Stern with me once. I was a teenager and Mom and I were not getting along, 'nuf said. Sister and Mom can only remember once he even ever got angry ... and that involved a Snowblower.

When my grandma moved out of her apartment I got her hide-a-bed couch. Dad moved that couch no less than 4 times. He was quite happy when it came time for me to find it another home.

I mentioned that my Mom worked every other weekend. Since she was originally from Dubuque and all of Dad's family was closer to Dubuque than here, we went to visit the family. Every Other Weekend. For at least ten years. We drove the same stretch of road Every Single Time. After I got my license I drove my car to Dubuque once to show the family. Dad rode with me and Mom and Sister took another car. I remember getting stuck behind someone going too slow and being really nervous about passing. He said to me "Just wait a minute. Over that hill is a passing zone." I remember thinking "How in God's Name does he know where the passing zones are???" But he had driven that road at least twenty times a year for at least ten years. He probably had the passing zones memorized in that first year!

My cousins told the story of when my Dad showed up at Mom's parent's house for their first date. Mom is the 3rd of 4 girls. Her oldest sister was married and had 2 or maybe 3 kids when Mom and Dad met. My cousin said she remembers my Dad showing up .... and that he never left. He was just always around after that.

That is the kind of man he was. He was never much of a talker. But he was always there when you needed him. He moved me in and out of 3 apartments. He helped take care of Sister's lawn often. He took Mom to work on cold winter mornings and picked her up so she wouldn't have to sit in a cold car or drive in less than ideal weather. These are the things I'm going to store up in my heart.

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