Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I know, I know, I'm a little late.

My Dad was typical of a lot of men of his era.
He was a truly good man, quiet, frugal and conservative.
He attended Church every Sunday, but I never heard him sing.
I know he prayed every day, but I never heard him pray.
I know he loved me, but it wasn't a hugs and kisses kind of love.
He never said "I love you." He taught me to fish, and light a fire with one match, and tried to pass on the principles he lived his whole life by.
He showed me how to make Pancakes.
He fought in WWII in North Africa and Italy under General Patton.

There was a cigar that seemed to be a permanent fixture in Dad's mouth which he used to great effect as he talked to you. Dad could recite the Gettysburg Address in perfect diction with that cigar tucked into the corner of his mouth. He could move that cigar from one side of his mouth to the other and you never saw his lips move. It was as though it rode on ball-bearings.
Whenever Dad wanted to put some puctuation to any remark he might be making, the cigar would come out of his mouth and he would study the cigar, and the ribbons of smoke that came off of it.
When I turned 16 and got a car, I met a girl at a Junior Acheivement Dance. She was not my first girlfriend but she was the first with me having a Drivers License and a car. A whole new world was opened up. Her name was Jeri, and man, this girl could dance!
She was also very pretty, with blonde hair down to the small of her back, Ice-blue eyes and pouty lips that shone with Ice-Cream lipstick.. I am sure that it was her good looks that prompted my Dad into one of our little conversations.
After coming in from a date with Jeri, Dad sat me down.
"Thats a real nice lookin' girl you are seein' there son"
"Thanks Dad"
"You know, son, one of these days that little girl is gonna get the hot pants for you"!
"Undoubtedly, Father"
The cigar comes out and we both study it for a long moment as he blows a slow steady stream of smoke...
"Well when that happens I want for you to take her on to her house and you just come on home too."
"Sure Pop"

It was the equivalent of giving a girl a coin to put between her knees for birth control.

It was good and well intentioned advice, but there were other signs that Dad was losin' it.
His signature was getting sloppy and his writing wandered off the line.
When we worked on the car, he had trouble getting the screwdriver into the slot.
When he pulled up to a stop sign, sometimes he stopped 20 feet in front of it.
I thought jokingly that he must be getting senile.

Two years later in 1975, I heard a Medical term I had never heard before.
Dad had the "Early Onset" form of it and it left him completely disabled at the age of 58 years old.
Dad always told me what the right thing to do would be.

Dave Mows Grass, my nephew and I have started being sure to talk to each other every week. Some weeks we talk on thwe phone for an hour, other weeks only a little while.
The thing is, Davy lost his Dad too, and there are so many things we wish we might have talked to our dads about.
So, for you who still have fathers, even quiet and secret men like my father was, you go and talk to them, talk to them a lot because some day you will not be able to talk to them at all.
Its not too late.


cornbread hell said...

my dad died 10 years ago of parkinson's. i think you and i were raised by similar men in a similar fashion. hunting, fishing, not one hug. lots of church, no singing...more than one clash of ideas.

the last few years of his life i got to really know the man.
and i am grateful for that. and for this post.

thanks, bullet.

West Texas Insomniac said...

I told you I'd catch up with you "over here", but I hadn't read this one yet. You.....you done got me watered-up again...For you, Alzheimers is more than a "cause", like Leukemia is for me.

I never said anywhere in my own "Father's Day" post that Dad was only 58 when he passed away. (I only gave you some idea that he'd died "before his time".) I was lucky in a way. It was his body that gave out. He had his senses about him until the morphine robbed him of his faculties at the very end. We had the better part of 6 months from when he was diagnosed until he died to talk. We never ran out of things to talk about...

I admire you for the way you wrapped it all up. I left that part out of mine, probably on purpose, but maybe subconsciously...(As if that makes any sense.) I've got lifelong friends that still hold onto childhood angst about their fathers like it was a "binky". Like you and your nephew, we've had these conversations for years. For some I'd like to think that I, or at least my loss, had some small part in them rebuilding broken bridges or tearing down walls. But for most, it's like trying to reason with an addict. They won't "get it" until they bottom out, but in this instance, that's one day too late. It's maddening.

Your story is heart-warming, and your message is true. It's not too late to pick up a phone.

GrizzBabe said...

Great dad story!

SkippyMom said...

This reminded me so much of my Dad too.

He never, ever said I love you. But he always said "Talk to you later." Which, to us kids, meant the same thing.

It has been six years and if I could pick up the phone and say I love you Dad and he responded "I'll talk to you later." I would be a content Skippy.

Boy I miss him. Thanks Bullet.

bulletholes said...


Grizzbaby! Where you been?

bulletholes said...

oh skip, I nearly forgot you!
Thanks for coming by!

Mother of Invention said...

My mom is now in the early-mid stages of Alheimers. She is lucky she has my dad to shop, cook, and drive her places. She is also lucky to be 88 and have a husband who is turning 90 in Aug. and who is still sharp as a tack. They are still in their own home but I know soon something will happen that will necessitate a move for one or both of them. I know I am extremely lucky to have had them so long.