I was never good at writing about my Dad. It seemed like many of the kids at school had adventure stories to tell about their Dads–places they went or things they did together. I didn’t have those experiences. My story was always short. My Dad worked. The end.
He was the manager of the lumbar yard in the little Iowa town where I grew up. I did not really know exactly what that meant–but I was proud of him and that he was the BOSS–cool.
I’m not sure why, but I spent a lot of time there. I loved hanging out with him. I met a lot of the people who came in to ask him how much lumber they would need for this or what type of wood they should use for that. Some came by just to visit and share stories. I was very young–probably seven or eight years old. He would take a minute to introduce me to his customers. If he was out of the office, his bookkeeper, Delta, would do the same.I felt like just another one of the guys–and I liked that.
My favorite thing to do was clean his desk. It was a collection of catalogs, papers, and a gigantic business ledger. Now, as I look around at my own desk, it looks very much like the desk I used to “clean up” for him. He was a stacker. I did not realize until now that I’d inherited that trait. Gotta love those things that pop into your mind, onto the page, and into reality! I would dust and clean and re-arrange the stacks, all while listening to him order supplies or talk to customers on the phone or in person. He would tell those visiting that I was there to help him work and I was doing such a good job it would take him weeks to find things again.
What is so amazing to me now is how tolerant he was of me being in his work space.
I met most of the sales people who called on him. My favorite sales person, and a friend of Dad’s, was a man named, Royal. I think he was my first crush. He drove a huge, shiny, black car. (A car that would come into play later in my childhood.) Royal was very tall, tan, had thick very dark, slicked back hair, and he always smelled good, like my Grandpa. Regardless of the weather, he wore a suit with a tie. Dad would tell him to loosen up his tie and relax for a bit. I am sure I just sat and stared at him. He would take Dad over to the pool hall and buy coffee and pie–I was always invited and I had my choice of ice cream or a malt. One of my most vivid memories is Royal giving me a wooden nickel–remember those? Each time he was scheduled to visited, Dad would tell me so I could join them for coffee and I’d get my nickel and ice cream. I absolutely worshipped Royal. He made me feel special and he would sit with Dad, have coffee, and make us both laugh. I didn’t always understand what they were talking about but I knew he made Dad happy. Of all the things I did understand, even as a little kid, was that making Dad laugh was no small task.
Dad was not the typical Dad nor were we the typical family. He expected a lot from his oldest daughter–the daughter that he really wanted to be a boy. We all did our best, as strong and stubborn individuals and as an embattled family unit. We certainly faced some extreme situations. I am sure there were times when things were not handled very well but we somehow found ways to stay together. What I have come to understand is we all did the best we knew how to do with what we knew at the time.
I wish I had taken the time to really talk to him. I was so busy working at being the woman who could do it all and learn it all. I was fully aware that time was racing by but I felt I’d have that next visit to sit down and talk. That’s the cruelest of tricks, though. You always think you will have more time. Don’t fall for it, my friends.
Interesting, isn’t it, for someone with no story to tell about their Dad, I seem to have stumbled upon some wonderful memories.
Take some time today to talk with your Dad–listen to him and tell him how important he is to you and that you love him. Next Father’s Day may be too late.
Give yourself the gift of making a memory today.
Love and Peace, y’all