Hope every father, whether you are a father to a child of your own or a father figure to someone who needs one, had a great Fathers Day. So much has been written about how important a father is to children that it would be redundant to try to say more in this little blog. I do know how important Daddy was to our family and I can’t imagine how I would have turned out without him. There are so many things I know now and can do that he taught, either by example or doing it just the opposite. Take handy-man work. Daddy thought, emphasis on thought, he was a handy-man. After all, his daddy was a bridge builder, his brothers were bridge builders and he started out as a bridge builder. Manly men who could do all sorts of manly men stuff. He had tools, Lord did he have tools. I can remember watching him replace light switches. He would get out enough tools to build an airplane from scratch and then lay them out like a surgeon. Approximately an hour later, there would be a new light switch. Granted you flipped it down to turn the light on and flipped it up to turn it off, but a new switch had been installed. Job done. Nort and I were looking for some screw anchors or possibly a toggle bolt to hang some heavy shelves. I found some I thought would do. Good grief he said, where in the world did you get these? They were toggles that could hold up a shelf full of elephants. Well, they were Daddy’s of course. Neatly labeled and in an Osco pill bottle. What in the world he thought he would need something like this for I’ll never know. But if he did need them, he had them.
Daddy loved to play, I don’t think he ever really stopped being a little boy. We played games; board games, card games, horse shoes, ping pong, shuffle board, car games and more. He loved poker with the guys and flipping his lucky silver dollar for double or nothing. Men would come in to the drugstore to shop since the store carried jewelry, perfume and all sorts of goodies. Especially at Christmas when the store was sure to have what anyone could want in the line of a gift (Mother made sure each year there was special gift wrap. I bet I’ve made over a million big fluffy bows). I can remember a certain one of his buddies really loading up on gifts. We wrapped them up (Laura and I were the gift wrap section each year) and he was ready to pay. Of course, knowing Daddy, he was also ready to play a game also. Double or nothing, call it. Up went the well worn Standing Liberty Dollar and slap. And the friend walked out with a load of FREE Christmas gifts. And Daddy was just as tickled as if the toss had gone his way. It was a game and he loved to play.
Daddy did teach me some useful things too. One of the things he taught us was to always know how much gas was left in a car once it hit empty. This was way before cars would talk to you and tell you they were hungry. He would always drive a car around on empty so he would know that he had X many miles he could go after the needle took the plunge to E. That being said, we NEVER went on a family trip with out running out of gas at least once. There was the famous trip we took in one of the new fancy double cab trucks that had two, yes two gas tanks so we would never run out of gas. Yep, he could. Boys, take the gas can (there was always a gas can) and get some gas. I’ll stay here with the women and protect them. When Daddy died, he had a little silver Suzuki he loved (Daddy loved cool colors in vehicles) that had a defective gas gauge. It stopped running when the gauge said there was still a quarter of a tank left. Mother sent my brother, Larry (he was never Larry Junior, he was always Little Larry no matter how big he got. He is still referred to as Little Larry) to Fort Smith to run some errands and pick up Daddy’s ashes. Here is the set up: it was hot, hot and humid. Little Larry lives in Colorado so he was melting. He had ran all the errands and was on his way back to Mulberry with Daddy in the seat beside him. The Suzuki got great gas millage so he knew he had plenty to get back because the gauge still showed a quarter of a tank. Soooooo, half way between two exits on the interstate, about a mile from each one, guess who ran out of gas. Sputter, sputter, stop. All Larry could do was look at the passenger seat, sigh and say “Gee Boss, just had to do it to me one last time.” I bet Daddy nearly fell off his cloud laughing.
Of all the gifts Daddy gave us girls, I think the most important is showing us how much a man should love his wife. Daddy adored Mother. He thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world and he totally supported her in any cockamamie thing she came up with. He might grumble and whine, but if she wanted to do it, he was behind her all the way. They were a team, a united, solid team, Gwen and Larry. They grew up together, they raised us together, and when all of us had taken wing and flown off, they cherished their new found freedom together. Daddy loved his grands as much as he loved us. I have been so fortunate that I found my real Larry when I didn’t think I ever would. There are times I look at Nort and he is Daddy. Physically, in so many ways he is as far from Daddy as a man can get. But I’ll catch him peering at something over the top of his glasses, bald head shinning and silver beard glowing and I lose my breath. And no matter how angry Nort gets with me (and boy, can I push his buttons), I see the same look in his eyes when he looks at me that I saw when my daddy looked at my mother. So thank you Daddy, thank you for loving me and showing me what true love is. I miss you.