Saturday, October 28, 2006

Today's Moment of Dad: A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That...

Today is the one-year anniversary of Dad's passing.

I'm not sure how to explain how I feel, really. At this particular point, I'm just feeling - EMPTY. I'm not rending my clothing and singing mourning songs, but I'm not necessarily skipping through the pansies.

I'm sure as the day goes along, I'll be feeling all kinds of emotions, but this post isn't about me and my sorry mopy ass's about DAD.

So with that, I wanted to just throw out some snippets here and there to further illustrate the unique entity that was/is my dad.

1. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Dad liked working with tools and figuring out how things work. Dad's ingenuity saved the day for a former college beau of mine.

This beau came to visit me for the first time in June of 1988. He drove down to Washington from northern Iowa, and in his haste and excitement to see me, the beau locked his keys in his late '60's Buick. He called me from one of the local gas stations to let me know he was in town, but also spilled the beans about what happened to the car.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I met the beau at this gas station, and we went to the shoe repair shop to get Dad's help. He put up his "Back in Five Minutes" sign, and we headed out.

Basically, the situation with the car was this: there was only one window open, and the opening wasn't large enough for either of us to fit our arms/hands through.

Dad found a wire coathanger and bent it so that he could hook it around the lock and pull up, thereby engendering sweet freedom. I did appreciate Dad's engineering of the whole operation, but the beau was overwhelmed.

"Mr. Dawson, " he said, "How'd you figure out what to do?"

Dad replied, "Just one of the after effects of a mis-spent youth, I guess."

I rolled my eyes and thought, " thing, this guy is going to ask my dad how to make a zip gun or a shiv." Then I thought, "Oh, God, what if Dad can do that too?"

2. I recently talked to Dave B., a good friend of Dad's from Army Reserve days. I wanted to get a persepective of Dad from a friend's point of view, and I did get that.

Dad and Dave B. were both sergeants (their official rank was E7, Sgt. First Class). Dave and Dad first met up on an annual training session at Ft. Hood, TX., and went to at least five or six annual training sessions together (they were in the 872nd Maintenance Unit in my hometown of Washington).

Among 0ther things, Dad and Dave had an ongoing "popcorn war". Dad liked a little popcorn with his salt, and Dave liked a little salt with his popcorn.

They also argued about what booze was superior...Dad preferred Pabst Blue Ribbon, while Dave preferred a nice glass of wine. Then, in true form, they'd both knock another guy in the platoon that liked scotch. Even though they'd drink the "unpreferred" stuff in a pinch, it was just as fun to rag on the other one for their preference. Dad's way of putting it was, "Anyone that 'd drink (insert beverage of choice here) would suck eggs."

Annual training sessions weren't always nice and tidy for Army Reserve personnel. Dave related a story of one AT where they were out in the "boonies" on bivouac. Their meals were brought to them out in the field, and the rations weren't as plentiful as one would like. So of course, they entertained themselves with lengthy discussions about the facilities, the "floor show", the joys of eating outdoors, and the gradual change of attitude about the whole deal. Dave used the phrase "young bucks looking askance at us" when describing this time in the field, and I'm not exactly surprised. However, something tells me that when those two gents got their imaginations working together, God only knows what might happen.

Dave and Dad also liked going dancing (with their spouses, of course). Dave did remark that Mom and Dad's dancing styles were markedly different, in that they both could lead. While he wasn't exactly used to that in a woman, Dave figured, "If John could handle it...well..."

Dave told me he admired Dad for "telling it like it is". However, when I asked Dave if there was ever anything he wanted to ask or tell Dad that he didn't get a chance to, his answer was interesting. The answer came out as a hope or wish for Dad.

Dave said that one time he told my dad, "John, I really think you should quit smoking. What if you get cancer?" (This was nothing new, in and of itself.)

Dad's response was pragmatic, something to the effect of, "Well, if it happens, it happens." That was usually his standard answer...and he did try to quit (read the "cigarette" entry for more details) with no success, so he resigned himself to the fact.

Dave's wish was this: "I wish your Dad could've quit smoking sooner. Then he might still be here."

Amen, Dave.

More tomorrow, as per the arrangement...