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Posts Tagged ‘Father’s Day’

It’s Father’s Day and, quite honestly, it’s a bittersweet thing for me. My dad is still alive and spends his days and nights in a local nursing facility, as he has for the last couple of years. He has Alzheimer’s dementia but still recognizes me and remembers quite a lot most of the time so long as he isn’t under stress. He has little idea of time and place right now. When I visit him today he won’t remember if I was there yesterday and an hour after I am gone will forget I was there today.

Our conversations are short and feel almost scripted.

How long did it take you to get here?

How old are you?

How old am I?

You still driving the same car?

Where do you live?

What’s the weather like?

Is there snow out there?

That last one always makes me laugh as he has a large window in his room with a great view of the local hills and the city along with the river that winds through it and all of its bridges. He asked me that question yesterday after I told him it was going to be 80 degrees. He seldom gets up and looks out the window. He has little interest in anything outside his room.

I wish I could go off on a long description of all the things I got from my dad, pieces of advice and gems of wisdom, but there wasn’t much passed along directly. Sure, there is the swearing and a few other things that I would prefer to keep to myself. I am sure there are things I do that are direct reflections of him and his influence, some good and some bad. But it was never consciously passed along. Much of what I got from him came in the form of genetics and in object lessons where my observations often led me to avoid emulating much of his behavior.

But, even though he was flawed as a father and remains a faded shadow of the man he once was, he remains my dad.

For this Sunday, here’s song, All Around You, from Sturgill Simpson, accompanied by the Dap-Kings, the horn section that had previously backed soul singer Sharon Jones before her death in late 2016. I am not a fan of a lot of modern country music– so much of it sounds like formulaic 1980’s pop/rock to me– but I do like Sturgill Simpson. There’s a certain authenticity in his work that feels like it is in a natural progression from early traditional country music, even when he’s covering a Nirvana song such as In Bloom.

When things aren’t going well I sometimes find myself singing the chorus from his You Can Have the Crown. I won’t repeat the chorus here but it and the rest of the song always make me laugh. I think it’s a song my dad would like.

The song All Around You is about advice being passed on from a father to his young son, that there is a universal heart that contains a love with the ability to transcend the hatred, meanness and stupidity that currently surrounds us. The video is quite well done and makes quite a political statement for the times.

Take a look and have a good Father’s Day.


 

 

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dadIt’s another Father’s Day.  I’ve written briefly about my Dad here in the past, one post describing why the photo shown here of him from about 50 years ago is one of my favorites.   I’ve described him as my hero and boon companion when I was a kid and that is the truth.  I remember one year when I was in Little League.  Our team lost it’s first five games and our coach quit, leaving us without any guidance.  I don’t know how excited he was about it but Dad took over and things immediately turned around for us.  We won the remainder of our games but more importantly, what had been a chore for our kids became a lot of fun.

Dad was was surprisingly easy going and uncritical of the kids, never getting excited when we screwed up a play or made a bad pitch.  But  by making sure that every kid played a part in that team and showing us ways to win with his knowledge of baseball, the game became joyous again.  As an example, my best friend’s little brother was part of the team and before Dad came had hardly played at all.

He was a tiny kid and still pretty unskilled so the prior coach had him ride the bench and begrudgingly gave him a single at bat or two.  But Dad saw his tininess as a strength and he became our secret weapon when we needed baserunners.  His strike zone was about the size of a postage stamp,  especially after Dad showed him how to crouch to make himself even smaller, and the opposing pitchers just didn’t have that kind of skill to throw three strikes to him.  He became a walk machine and his whole game improved as did his enjoyment level.  I saw him a few years ago for the first time in almost 40 years and one of his first questions was about Dad. That’s not uncommon when I run into childhood friends.

Another of my memories is riding in the car with him as a child when he would sing.  Some of the songs were nonsense songs that he had made up, one with few words but a melody that I still carry to this day.  Another was the chorus from the polka,She’s Too Fat For Me.  I remember these moments now with great fondness but when I was a very little kid I didn’t like to hear my Dad sing and would yell like a spoiled brat to make him stop.  That bothers me now because he seemed to be having so much fun that I should have just enjoyed that moment and let him belt it out.

So, Dad, if you’re reading this, here’s She’s Too Fat For Me.  Feel free to sing along and have a happy Father’s Day.

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criminals-with-forehead-tattoo-father-son

For Father’s Day-

                     Smart                         

My dad gave me one dollar bill

‘Cause I’m his smartest son,

And I swapped it for two shiny quarters

‘Cause two is more than one!

 

And then I took the quarters

And traded them to Lou

For three dimes-i guess he don’t know

that three is more than two!

 

Just then, along came old blind Bates

And just ’cause he can’t see

He gave me four nickels for my three dimes,

And four is more than three!

 

And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs

Down at the seed-feed store,

and the fool gave me five pennies for them,

And five is more than four!

 

And then I went and showed my dad,

and he got red in the cheeks

And closed his eyes and shook his head-

Too proud of me to speak!

 

–Shel Silverstein

 

I ran this several years ago for Father’s Day but decided to run it again because I think my Dad appreciates the  humor more than the mush of most Father’s Day sentiments.  It was either this or A Boy Named Sue, a song I remember my Dad liking which is also written by Shel Silverstein.   If you want the rundown on the happy family above, just click on the picture.  Have a Happy Father’s Day…

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I’m not going to go all sentimental about my dad on this Father’s Day.  It’s not either of our styles.

But I did want to show this picture of him from back in 1963 or 1964.  That’s my brother, Charlie ( Chuckie back then), in the background.  When I think of images of my father this one is always first in line in my head.  It was a Sunday morning ( my memory says it was an Easter but I can’t be sure) and we were living in an old farmhouse on Wilawanna Road, outside Elmira, that played a very large part in my formative years.  We had a large chunk of yard to one side of the house that became a ballfield, a place where many of the kids on our road came to play baseball regularly and where Dad would often pitch to us or hit soaring fungoes that we would run under, pretending to be Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle.  Dad is standing near home plate in this photo.

I love this photo.  It show my father at about 30 or so years of age, as strong and powerful as I would ever know him.  I was four or five years old and he was larger than life to me then, could do no wrong.  My protector and my boon companion.  This view of him sums that all up.

  The pose has a bit of the pride and arrogance of youth in it, still brimming with the what-if’s and what-can-be’s of potential.  It’s not something you’re used to seeing in your parents and witnessing it is like seeing a secret glimpse of them, a side you know must have been there but remains hidden from you in your day to day life with your parents.  Maybe that’s why I like this picture so much.  It seems like a marking point between his youth and ours, his kids. 

I don’t know.  Like many personal things, it’s hard to explain.  All I know is that when I see my Dad today or think about him, the image of this photo is never far from my mind.

happy father’s day….

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