June 15, 2014
I know. It’s been a long time. But I think of you often. I still have Mom, and we talk some about you.
I remember when you drove us from Albuquerque to a lake near Tucumcari, with the canoe on top of the old Hudson Hornet. The Hudson got us there as usual, just like it made it out of that high mountain muddy meadow one time. But the canoe…Well, we had to fish from the shore. We did okay.
I remember the house in Albuquerque and you letting me up to watch Zorro, even though I was supposed to be sleeping. I remember you showing me how to swim like Johnny Weissmuller, how to serve a tennis ball, and how to dance. When we boys danced to the Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, we weren’t Fred Astaire, but we did okay.
I remember us cheering for Johnny Unitas and his Colts, and you teaching me about football. I remember you showing me to put neat’s-foot oil on my baseball glove so it would mold to the ball, and how to throw a curve ball and setting up a pitching target on the chain length fence. Pretty soon that fence was all bulged out and a few balls went through to the neighbors. You even played catch with me, despite your bad vision. I wasn’t a great pitcher, but we did okay.
I remember running beside you while you road the bike on the dirt road up Waterton Canyon to fish at a small dam on the South Platte. Not sure what dam it was back then, but you needed still water and bait. The fishing was tough, but we learned how to dry out Fire Balls so the fish would take them before they got so soggy they fell off the hook. There were a few rattlesnakes. I got to run around. We had a nice sack lunch. Usually it rained in the afternoon. I remember the smell of rain on dust. I ran part way back and then you road me on the handlebars. Maybe that’s why I always liked to run. We never caught a lot of fish. I didn’t fly fish like I do now. But we did okay.
I remember that one time at Jefferson Lake when we forgot the funnel and tried a coffee cup to add gas to the outboard. We both remembered after that how gasoline melts Styrofoam. I learned to fly fish on the outlet stream with monofilament and a Zebco reel. You fished from shore. We did okay.
It started snowing that day, pretty hard, and soon we were driving back over Kenosha pass in a blizzard. You pulled over and looked at me and said, “I can’t see the road. You have to drive.” You’d already taught me how to drive. I had my learner’s permit. We did okay.
You taught me so, so many things, but your lasting lessons are: be kind to others yet firm, live up to your word, work for your money, and love your family.
I remember after my first year in medical school you holding my first born, Sarah, your loving calm eyes so close your nose touched her and she jumped. She didn’t cry though. She knew how kind you were. You just wanted to see her. I laughed and you hugged her to your chest. We did okay.
You died the next year in Mexico, trying to help your family live better on a meager medical retirement due to your blindness.
I never got to say good bye. I hope you read this and know how much I loved you.
I’m doing okay.
No. Because of you, I’m doing better than okay. Way better. And a lot of the reason has to do with you. I’m so happy Father’s Day helped me to remember you. I wish you were here to hug.
Love you, Dad.