Monday, October 30, 2006

Today's Moment of Dad: "He's Not Here..."

Dad's not here in physical form.

Well, DUH.

That part is the hardest to adjust to.

(Yeah, this is a Moment of Dad, but also a Moment of Adjusting Without Dad, so deal with it...)

I must admit, I've had to get used to being away from Dad since I moved out here, as well as times preceding (college, moving to Iowa City like a grown-up, etc). However, I knew I'd see him at some point.

However, there's other things about him that aren't here anymore.

1. His voice.

Dad's speaking voice, I would like to clarify, was much more pleasing to the ear than his singing. Ruth and I loved Dad's singing voice when we were just little things, but by the time we started school and heard our music teacher sing, our opinions changed. Dad figured that out too, so he would sing to us out of sheer orneriness. It was agonizing.

His speaking voice was so comforting, though. He had a deep voice, with a smidge of a Southern accent to it (at least in my mind). Thanks to years of smoking, it was a little gravelly, but not so much that you couldn't understand what he was saying. Ruthi brought up (on the way to the internment service) that we would say things to Mom and Dad just so we could hear them talk. I can't say she was wrong.

2. His touch/his hands

Dad's hands were not big ol' meathooks. They were in proportion to the rest of his body. He spent his whole life working with his hands for both income and enjoyment. When he wasn't working in the field (as a young man), as a welder, or as a shoe repairman, he enjoyed woodworking and other activities of that nature.

However, when he stroked our hair or gave us hugs, his touch was as welcome as any soft feather or piece of silk. It was Dad's touch. (I'm not short-changing Mom in any way when I say this, either...she'd probably agree with us.)

3. Our family's shared sense of whimsy

I think some of the funny and memorable times we shared as a family were due in part to our sense of whimsy. We could just be sitting outside for no reason, and one of us would notice something. That's all it took.

One time, in true "bored on a Saturday night" fashion, we were sitting outside watching the bug zapper. (Can you hear the banjos? I can...)

Somehow, one of us (maybe Ruthi) started talking about how we could make the light show of the bug zapper more appealing? There weren't enough big ol' juicy bugs that night, you see.

Then Dad said that maybe synchronized fountains might work, but they'd be too hard to set up.

So somehow, one of us came up with the idea that Dad could pee into the bug zapper, and that'd create lots of sparks. (Yes, electrocution WAS discussed, but you know, "that's show biz!")

One of us even came up with a name - and I think this was actually Dad's doing - "The Prancing Fluids!"

Now if that isn't family bonding, I don't know what is.

4. Dad's hugs

Dad was a wiry guy, and as such, you could feel his sinews when he hugged you tight. That was a good feeling to the three women in his house, to be sure. And as I mentioned, others adopted our dad as theirs, so the good vibes were indeed spread.

I have actually found a substitute for Dad's hugs...a man in our church named Ron M. is built a lot like my dad, walks like him, and comes from a farming background. He gives good Dad-type hugs. His wife is a good sport about it, but it really is a comfort to know that I can get a hug proxy on Sundays. I think he and Dad would have gotten along too. They're both easygoing and mellow.

So that's the Moment of Dad. Tomorrow...who knows?