My dad died a little over a year ago. COVID was the final thief, but there were other elements at play, too. He was a few months short of his 91st birthday. He’d had a good life. His widow, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren miss him a lot. He was one of those people who always had a hand to lend, a laugh to share, and a lot of very questionable wisdom.
Here are some of the things he said to me over the years (mostly when I was very young):
- “Eat your bread crusts. They’ll put hair on your chest.” (Why would I, a girl, want hair on my chest?)
- “If you talk during a movie in a theater, they’ll throw you out on your ear.” (I pondered this one long and hard. How could a person land on a sidewalk on only their ear?)
- “If you swallow your chewing gum/eat the seeds in your apple, it/they will go into a sac in your side, they’ll have to operate to take it out, and you’ll walk crooked for the rest of your life.” (This was accompanied by him bending his waist to the right side as far as he could and hobbling about.)
But he was a good dad despite the questionable advice. He was present. He was involved. He taught all of us–imy mom, my sibs, and me–how to drive. The man had the patience of a saint.
I learned my fascination with the sky from him. Jet contrails were not something he grew up with, so they delighted him when he saw them. He woke me up in the middle of the night once to show me Sputnik (the Russian satellite), explaining that it was like a great big basketball circling the world. During a solar eclipse, he made a cardboard box “viewer” so we could watch the eclipse through holes poked in the carton.
Writing his obituary was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.