Dad teaching me how to ride my bike
Now only three months until the release of my picture book, Am I Like My Daddy?, the story of seven-year old Grace who ponders this very question after having only incomplete memories of her dad who died when she was five, I also find myself asking this very question as an adult. Am I Like My Daddy? I have been using bits of my summer vacation (though never enough) to clean out and purge those parts of my house that tend to accumulate stuff. The last two weeks I have tackled the storage part of our basement saving the boxes of childhood mementos for last. I have very few pictures of my dad and even fewer mementos. I am sharing some of those pictures today, for you and for my family that may read my blog. I am hoping that in the virtual web of lives intersecting over their computers, that someone who knew my dad will pipe in with his or her own memories so that I can learn, like Grace, if I am like my daddy…
This is what I know…Am I like my dad?
1. My dad was a good dancer, so I have been told. I, on the other hand, though I don’t think I am a bad dancer, have been told that I dance like a stick. It is a mean comment made to me many years ago, but it is a comment that “sticks” in my mind for life, pun intended.
2. My dad did not smile a lot, in pictures, at least, as that is my record. I don’t know why. Maybe he didn’t like getting his picture taken. I don’t either, but I do try to smile, and I think I smile more like my mom.
3. He had brown hair and eyes and was graying upon the time of his death, at age 37. I have brown hair and eyes and started graying at age 25. This is one family trait I wish I did not have like my dad.
4. I assume my dad was a hard worker. He was a blue-collar worker, first a farmer and later a warehouse worker. I work hard mentally, but I do not do things well with my hands if it involves labor. I guess I am not like my dad in that regard.
5. I like to read. I have no memories of my dad reading to me.
6. Dad liked to bowl. When my parents divorced he would take my sister and me bowling or to play miniature golf, two activities I still like, though I am only fair at doing. I still remember two things from my golfing with Dad: 1. One time at Putt-Putt golf the manager asked my sister’s age. Dad lied to get her in cheaper, but I confessed to the manager her real age. I suppose he didn’t like that much. 2. My younger sister asked Dad if she won. He told her she had the highest score. I use that answer with my own children now, at times, though usually it is me with the highest score these days.
7. Dad was in 4-H. I was, too, for a few years though I really stunk at everything: baking, sewing, flower arranging, etc.
8. Dad liked music. I have fond recollections of listening to a particular tape in his car. It is one memento I asked to keep when he died, and I still have it. Air Supply’s Making Love Out of Nothing at All and Neil Sedaka’s Calendar Girl were on that tape. Weird, but I loved those songs. The last thing Dad bought me was a tape, of my choosing, at K-Mart, right before his accident. Though it was the mid-80’s I picked The Carpenter’s Greatest Hits. Their songs are quite melancholy, and I feel sad when I hear them now, but they do make me think of my dad. Also, Johnny Paycheck’s song Take This Job and Shove It reminds me of him. Maybe we listened to it? Maybe it’s because I know he liked country music? Regardless, it is a love for music that I do share in common with my dad.
9. To this day, if I can avoid it, I will not wave good-bye to family members or watch their cars leave. I have a very vivid memory of watching my dad’s red car leave our subdivision the day before his accident (which was not a car accident but a fall). However, the first new car I bought was a bright red car, the color of Dad’s car.
Sitting down to write about my dad is extremely personal. I feel rather exposed right now and contemplate erasing this whole thing. It’s quite clear to me that I don’t think I am much like my dad at all, and that makes me sad. I hold him on a bit of a pedestal as my memories are so incomplete and yearn to be filled in with beautiful strokes, but I can’t even finish the picture of my dad because I just don’t know what colors to choose. Whether done publicly on this blog or in private, I’d like to know more, the good, the bad, and the ugly because I’d like to find myself in this picture with my dad…somewhere.
And in the event that a well-known agent is researching my blog right now, to make sure I really can write, and I am not some weirdo, well…. I can assure you I am of sound mind and body, just an adult woman thinking about her dad….
I hope that by me sharing my experiences with you, just as my character Grace shares in my book, that you will know you are not alone in your personal quest for answers in life, whatever you may be seeking.
Dad and his second wife