He’s been gone for many years but he is still missed. I’d love for the phone to ring and hear him again. He always used to say “Diane? This is your father.” And that never failed to crack me up. After he retired he’d call a lot when Mom would take off shopping and leave him at home.
The Fishing Rod Incident
I remember one summer vacation when he lost a brand new expensive fishing rod and reel my Grandfather had given me for my birthday. Dad decided we would take the boat out to the center of the lake, the deepest part, bottom unknown according to local legend, and show me how to cast. I was around seven at the time and it didn’t dawn on me that my Dad didn’t fish. As far as I know he’d only been fishing a few times with his dad when he was a kid. Mom had stayed on shore with a good book or I’m certain Dad would not have done what he did. He was sitting at the back of the boat by the outboard motor and he proceeded to show me how to cast. All the good intentions in the world can often end badly. This one did. He hit his elbow on the outboard motor and dropped the rod and reel into the water. It seemed to take forever to sink. We both sat there and watched it disappear. Dad said more than a few words that I could not repeat to Mom.
We went back to shore and he told Mom what had happened. Dad said we needed to find a replacement before Grandpa and Grandma came for the weekend or Grandpa would be mad at him. Mom was worried about the money it would cost but she thought we could do it. So we took road trips all over that section of Wisconsin and checked every where that carried fishing equipment. We talked to everyone we could find who might know where to find another one. No luck. It seems Grandpa had bought it at a shop in Chicago and he wasn’t very happy that Dad had managed to lose it. Dad bought me another rod and reel, not as fancy but just as good. Grandpa ended up teaching me how to cast.
The Furniture Builder
On another vacation Dad decided to build me a play table and chair from scrap lumber left in Grandpa’s workshop. Grandpa had not only built the cabin, the rock fireplace and the garage with attached cottage and the boathouse, he’d built most of the furniture in the cabins. Dad never did much in the way of woodwork. There was a foot stool at home that Dad made in shop when he was in high school that Grandpa had to redo. Dad did make a child size chair and table, of sorts, that summer. I was happy with them and played contentedly with my dolls on them the rest of the week.
Then my grandparents came for the weekend. One of the first things Grandpa did after we ate breakfast Saturday morning was to find the chair and table by the sandbox. After he laughed, he asked me what they were. I proudly told him it was a table and chair that Daddy had made for me. Grandpa always carried a fat pencil in his pocket and he took it out and wrote in large letters on each piece of furniture “TABLE” and “CHAIR”. He said that was so I’d know for sure what they were. Considering Grandpa always used plans for his wood working projects I think Dad did just fine. He’d had no plans to follow. The main point is Dad had taken the time to make me happy and that is about the best any parent can do for a kid.
The Battle of the Daisies
Mom had spent years working on her garden. She had bee balm under the front picture window, irises along the side of the house and a backyard filled with flower beds containing zinnias, cornflowers, larkspur, cosmos, daisies, marigolds, morning glories and purple cone flowers. The daisies would send up new plants outside the borders of the flower beds each year. Mom spent a lot of time moving the new plants back into the flower beds.
Dad said he hated flowers but I’m not sure about that. He would put up with them if they were inside the boundaries of the flower beds. Otherwise they interrupted his grass mowing. For years he used a push mower and the stray daisies didn’t bother him much. He’d just mow around them and Mom would dig them up and move them later.
After he got a power mower things changed. He would aim the mower at the daisies, Mom would yell and rant and Dad would grin. I knew the flower beds had reached their limits when Mom finally told him to just run the damned things over. Which he happily did.