Lily Looks Back…1970
I am the youngest of my family and spent a lot of my childhood feeling like an only child because of the age gap between me and my brother and sister. By the time I was eight or nine, they had moved out and started on their adult lives. I like to remember the times we were all at home to celebrate the holidays together.
We lived out in the suburbs where every tree had been plowed away and the stores were being built up around us. KMart was the first to come followed by a mall just a few years after. Holidays meant there were family shopping trips to KMart where my father or mother doled out some “buying” money to each of us. I looked up and down the aisle of boxed shirt and tie sets laid out for Father’s Day before picking out the perfect one with the backup approval of my mother.
For Father’s Day breakfast, my mom would be certain to have my dad’s favorite of biscuits, sausage and gravy. We watched while he opened our presents and I was thrilled at how delighted he was at my choice. Then we headed off to church and I was already anticipating our Sunday afternoon. Sunday after church was always the best. It meant we’d be seeing our cousins and Father’s Day was the same. One Father’s Day, we all gathered at a local park while the dads grilled out. My uncle made some mean barbecue chicken and aunts and uncles pushed the food unto us cousins. We played nonstop games of tag and kickball and after dinner the adults joined in to play volleyball (my father in pic). My father was athletic and fun-loving. No matter what the activity, he would have everyone laughing. After games, my father pulled out his guitar and my aunts started making requests for their favorite hymn. Often, there was a cousin wanting to learn to play guitar. Whoever was currently trying to learn would play along while my dad gave him tips. There was more eating and before the pack-up began, the cousins started begging to spend the night at each others house. We’d also be running off to squeeze in a couple more games of “Ghost in the Graveyard” before we were called to the cars.
Because of the holiday, we skipped evening services. But, the night ended as our nights usually did. My father wound up his day by playing a few songs on the guitar. It was the background noise in our home and was always there as we hung out trying to avoid bedtime. Tired from the day, it would irritate him if he had to stop to holler at us to leave each other alone and get to bed. The sound of my dad picking songs on the guitar, usually a Chet Atkins tune, put me to sleep most nights of my childhood. Although, it is not a Father’s Day pic (Christmas 75, I think), I had to include one of my father playing his guitar.
We are fewer now, and I treasure the memory of the time when we were young, healthy and our world was secure with our parents. Happy Father’s Day Dad!
Jennie Looks Back…1993
This is probably my favorite picture of my dad with my niece, taken in 1993; she’s about 21 months old and he’s 62. I like it because they’re both looking so directly at the camera, and my dad has a firm grasp on my niece. He was always tentative with her, the way he was with his own daughters when we were young. It was like he thought we might break. I remember hating it when he brushed my hair; my mom brushed my hair HARD (sometimes a little too hard) in an attempt to restore order and stave off the tangles that constantly formed. My dad brushed my hair so gently, and you’d think I would prefer that, but I was used to the tough brushing, and after that the gentle brushing felt weirdly irritating, like being tickled, almost. I never said anything because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
I don’t think it was until I was grown that I recognized that my dad was a worrywart. He worried if I was talking to him on my cell phone; didn’t that lead to brain tumors? Once my sister and I were visiting with my niece; she couldn’t have been more than 3 months old. We had put her in the middle of his (king-sized) bed and were standing around talking, probably a foot away from the bed. My dad started fretting; the baby might roll off the bed. I was astonished and amused myself with the idea that my tiny niece was actually some sort of secret baby ninja, capable of executing several rapid consecutive rolls to get to the edge of the bed and fall off before any of us could stop her.
My dad has been gone six years. I don’t miss him every day, the way I do with my mom. But occasionally I think about that gentle hair brushing, and the memory makes me smile.
Father’s Day has a special meaning in our house. Both of my kids have birthdays close to Father’s Day. My daughter was born on Father’s Day in 2001. My dad tries to make the trip from California to Colorado every Father’s Day to not only celebrate the kids birthdays but so that we can celebrate Father’s Day together. My kids LOVE that they get to see their Grandpa on that special day, and so do I. I have a lot of memories with my dad. We spent our summers with him as kids. We would go camping in the Sierra Nevada mountains, swim at the pool, and go roller skating. Roller skating was a big thing. I still remember him trying to teach me how to skate backwards! I’m pretty sure I mastered it, but there’s no way I’m doing it now! He would take us to the beach and we would make sand castles all day long. I’m just glad my Dad can be here on this special day and make new memories with us. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!