My mother used to say that she didn’t need any sons, she had Martin. My father was not only a child at heart, he knew how to let go and enjoy life the way a child would.
When I was little, he brought home a series of amazing toys like an accordion, a full-sized trampoline and a cotton candy machine. Don’t be fooled. Those were all so he could play and we were welcome to join him.
Long before there were audio cassettes and portable tape players, he bought a 4-track tape recorder.. He said it was so he could practice his sales pitch. Ha! You could sing with yourself and play the musical accompaniment. He spent hours recording himself whistling tunes, singing tunes and playing the melody on his piccolo.
Many years later, Marty brought home a player piano. The rest of us had to pump our hearts out to get music, but he could just sit down and play almost anything by ear. Sadly, he didn’t pass that gene along to me. I got his stubborn streak and his love of words.
He played board games in the house and sports in the yard. The neighbor kids would come to the back door and ask Marty to come out to play.
When it snowed, you knew to be on alert. At some point, he was sure to show up – in the house – and get you with a snowball!
He loved to build things and would make anything you asked for. Unfortunately, his sense of scale was often skewed. The little desk you anticipated would take up half the room but the end table for the sofa looked like a piece of child’s furniture.
Marty finally found his milieu. After he retired, he started building dollhouses and the furniture that went in them. He made amazing pieces absolutely to scale with inlaid wood and working drawers. My mother was in charge of interior decorating and they both shopped for commercial pieces to augment what he made. I provided the quilts for the beds.
Don’t get me wrong. In many ways, he was a Victorian father with 19th century rules and values. You broke the rules and you paid the price. On the other hand, he had only daughters and he expected them to do well in school, go to college and be able to support themselves. As he wisely pointed out, there were no guarantees that we would get married and have a man take care of us.
He wasn’t very good at expressing his feelings in words but his deeds spoke volumes. The day after I came home from the hospital with my first child, my dad showed up at the door with an armload of my favorite flowers – gladioli. He just happened to see them. Right…..
Our first house had no air conditioning and the summer was – well, it was a typical Virginia summer, oppressively hot and humid. He came over one day with a window unit and installed it in the kitchen so I could cook for the family without passing out.
I’ve bored you long enough with stories about my dad – take time today to think back over your own stories and share them with your children.
If you are lucky enough to still have your dad, I hope you are able to spend some part of the day with him. I would if I could.