.....That was my dad's way of telling us girls he loved us. "Honey, your ol' dad loves ya a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck!" I don't know why I was thinking of that today. Probably because it's that time of year again. I always find myself thinking of my dad at this time of the year.
It was 10 years ago on Tuesday (January 31, 2002) that Janie and I sat by his bedside waiting and dreading that last breath. What a horrible day that still crops up in my nightmares. Having been broadsided by a semi truck, on his way to his bowling league the day before, dad had succumbed to his injuries.
I'm so thankful for my dad and I love days like this when he crops up in my thoughts and I think about some of the things he taught me or the way he made me laugh. I think about him when I see a Jefferson's rerun - I can still hear him laughing at George and Weezy! For a long time my ring tone on my phone was the Pink Panther theme - because it reminded me of those Saturday mornings curled up with him on the couch watching Pink sleuth his way out of trouble.
A Korean War veteran my dad was intensely patriotic. The most beautiful picture in the world to him was the grand ol' flag blowig in the breeze - "Isn't she a thing of beauty babe?", he'd say when we'd see one.
There are many things I miss about my dad. There are many ways I am like him, and many ways I am not. Dad and I didn't always see eye to eye on many things and I was enough like him to argue the fact! And boy, did we argue! We differed in politics, religious views and many other things! But, we had great respect for each other and still came out with the "hug around the neck" when the arguing was done.
He loved nature and was eager to teach us all about. A farm boy raising his kids in the city he made sure to teach us about country life and farm values every chance he could. I've tasted sassafras plucked straight up from the dirt on a nature walk, marveled at baby 'possums who had lost their mother, taught how to feed apples to a horse out of the palm of my hand, buried family pets, and nurtured several litters of puppies and kitties in our garage!
He was an incredible creature of habit - I think he learned this in the military. He used selsun blue shampoo, ivory soap (bar form), stick butter and took the old fashioned big gaggy non coated tylenol, drank out of the same coffee cup that he found in the attic of a house he lived in when Janie was little and kept a tupperware glass of water in the fridge all the times! Always.....he never swayed from these things - they were constants...Oh yes, and of course, he ate chicken noodle soup everyday for lunch (on the days he was home) with a good dusting of black pepper on top out of the same gosh darn bowl for the last 10 years of his life!! And, I might add made disgusting slurping noises while eating it!!
He didn't buy anything that wasn't american made and cursed those that did (glad he doesn't know about our Toyota :)). He wore blue jeans (that he called overall pants) and button down shirts everyday. He loved to laugh and was a great story teller! He was equally as bad a driver.
Dad's bad driving + winding mountainous Eastern KY roads + reminiscing about "back in the day" = Near death, be near me Lord Jesus moments!
I can't tell you how many close calls we had on those curves when dad started to reminisce. After hearing the same stories over and over every time we went to visit Granny I finally let him know that we had heard these stories before. Because, after all, I'm a lot like him and he probably would have told me the same. But not my tender hearted sister...she would let him reminisce and reminisce to our death down some rocky cliff. And of course, she always acted like it was the first time she had heard the story! This is probably why he loved her more!! (ha ha, just kidding but then,every one knows I was the baby, therefore cute, cuddly and irresistably adorable - couldn't help it! - love ya sis!!)
He loved children. I think if mom had been agreeable he would have had 12 kids - he often lamented that he didn't have more. The problem with this is that he'd just about let a kid get by with anything. I remember looking outside when Nic was just toddling and he was carrying a glass bottle on the pavement! Yikes! "Dad, why are you letting him carry that glass bottle on the driveway?" I shouted. "Aww babe, let the kid have some fun - he won't get hurt...I'm watching him"! Wow, that made me feel better! NOT! I didn't like Kindergarten. My mom taught school and it was dad's job to take me to the private Kindergarten at the Christian church everyday since he worked night shift. Almost every day I cried and dad would just take me back home, and on the way home he would say "Don't say anything to your mother about this". (Hey, I didn't say he was a perfect dad or spouse, just a sucker, mostly) It wasn't until the teacher confronted my mom in the grocery store about my many absences that she knew about our little secret! When she confronted my dad about this he simply said he couldn't stand to see me cry so he just took me back home and we played all day!! Ha - what a guy, eh? I turned out okay anyway (no comment on this one from anyone)!
Eventhough my dad was not to my knowledge a born again Christian he taught me so much about loving others, reaching out to those in need, unconditional love, taking care of the environment, loving nature...so much good stuff that I hope I am showing my kids as well (Fail, Fail, many times over, but a work in progress)!!
I often wonder what he would think if he could just come back to us for one day. What would he think about having a grand-daughter?. How hard would he laugh at his great grandson and how much would he let him get by with??? What would he think of the price of gas? The bad economy? The war in Iraq?
So much has changed since he left us on that awful day 10 years ago. But his legacy of love has only grown stronger! I love you dad - A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck!!
My sweet dad putting together a puzzle with Z when he was a little guy!!