The Things We Remember Most

Dad passed away 10 years ago, which I still find hard to fathom. It doesn’t seem possible, as he was larger than life and had a commanding presence. With large personalities, it’s easy to believe they will be with us forever. In some ways, he still is.

March 2016_Easter 1967_Tacoma (1)

He was a tease, and from the smiles here and his hand in motion, it looks like he was about to tickle me, tug on my hair, or stick his finger in my ear. That was his way.

Today would have been dad’s 87th birthday, so in his honor, and inspired by my friend Jessica, I am going to make a list. I’m going to see if I can recall 87 things about dad.

In no particular order of importance, and including good and maybe some not-so-good, what follows are the 87 things I remember most about dad:

  1. He was hilarious. (See #63)
  2. He fiercely loved our mother.
  3. He took many photos of our mother.
  4. He loved pancakes.
  5. He was deathly afraid of heights.
  6. He loved Oregon beaches.
  7. He loved camping with his family.
  8. He was a staunch democrat.
  9. He loved to read.
  10. He loved to swim.
  11. He hated going to the doctor.
  12. He liked to wear baggy sweatshirts.
  13. He loved the color fire engine red.
  14. He painted our childhood bathroom fire engine red.
  15. He later preferred the color gold.
  16. He liked to grow cherry tomatoes in a pot on the porch.
  17. He loved popcorn.
  18. He started finish work on the basement but gave it up because he didn’t like to work alone in the musty basement.
  19. He loved jazz.
  20. He loved big band.
  21. He thought today’s music–that when I was growing up–was hard to understand.
  22. He loved Jackie Gleason.
  23. He loved John F. Kennedy.
  24. He loved long walks on the beach.
  25. He started smoking when he was 16.
  26. He gave up smoking cold turkey as a fifty-something adult and never looked back.
  27. He hated being around other smokers after he quit.
  28. He liked a cold beer on a hot summer night.
  29. He was proud of his service in both the National Guard and the Navy.
  30. He was extremely proud of his work as Chamber of Commerce manager and the work he did for his community.
  31. He served proudly on the school board in our home town.
  32. He pushed through an ordinance ensuring that a specific area along our local highway stay banner, sign, and advertisement free.
  33. He loved homemade hamburgers as opposed to restaurant burgers.
  34. He loved fries.
  35. He loved cars.
  36. If you arrived five minutes late, you’d better have a damn good reason.
  37. He had a Masters in Sarcasm.
  38. He perfected the Geier Glare (tribute to dad, part 1).
  39. He was responsible for helping start our local community college.
  40. He was responsible for the location of our community college.
  41. He spent countless phone and travel hours with the higher ups in Salem, OR when the local bypass went through, helping divert an increasing clogged flow of traffic from the downtown area where he worked.
  42. He served many years on the local school board.
  43. Education was a firm passion.
  44. He began working toward a masters degree but was strongly discouraged by his boss so he stopped.
  45. He recorded conversations with his mother before she passed away.
  46. He recorded conversations with me while I was in college.
  47. He refused to allow doctors to cauterize my nose when I was a child.
  48. He stood next to my bed and held my hand when they sewed up my leg. I was 10 and had raced home with a puncture wound in my leg from a bike accident.
  49. He became furious when, after my first week as a college freshman, I hadn’t called home.
  50. He looked ready to pass out the day I flew to Brazil.
  51. He was proud of me for sticking with it during my pre-dental coursework, even though I played too hard, evidenced by my grades.
  52. He never complained when he should have over my undergrad grades.
  53. He didn’t live to see me finish my master’s degree, with honors.
  54. He would have been beyond proud that I stayed the course and finished my education.
  55. He used to drive 30 minutes to take me to work the graveyard shift before I got my license.
  56. When I broke their bedroom window throwing my softball on the roof he didn’t get mad.
  57. He made me my very own high jump set.
  58. He played catch with me in our backyard.
  59. He bought me my own wooden bat, mitt and ball.
  60. He gave us embarrassing nicknames.
  61. He later gave mom the nickname Maude. We don’t know why.
  62. He loved dogs.
  63. He told me when he taught me to drive that I was to do anything and everything humanly possible to avoid hitting a dog or a child, but if I saw a cat, I had his permission to drive into people’s yards to kill it. (See #37).
  64. He made his own version of home made soup that even mom disliked.
  65. He loved parsnips.
  66. He loved liver and onions.
  67. He loved having the family over for a back yard BBQ.
  68. If he handed you something and you said, “What am I supposed to do with this?” he would say, “Stand there and hold it” and walk away, very pleased with himself.
  69. A pair of his sunglasses sits at the bottom of Timothy Lake.
  70. He was an avid photographer.
  71. He used to tell me when my kids were little to write down the funny things they say, that I’d never remember otherwise.
  72. He was right about #71.
  73. He had really messy handwriting.
  74. When walking home from the park, he told me (when my children were little) how blessed I am.
  75. He regretted not having danced with me at my sister’s wedding.
  76. He believed in tough love. It’s what he knew.
  77. He had a soft heart but sometimes tried to keep it hidden.
  78. He called his step dad “Pop.”
  79. He maintained great affection for his two aunts, was tight-lipped about his overbearing grandma who raised him.
  80. He told me once about an incident where he and our family dog had to run to get out of the way of an erratically approaching car driven by a teacher who disliked decisions dad had made while on the board.
  81. He would never divulge the office for which he’d been asked to run.
  82. Dad and mom decided to stay in the school district (where my sister and I had started) when he was offered a job in a nearby city whose district was not as good.
  83. He maintained a long friendship with his childhood friend Phil.
  84. Dad was “night blind” as am I.
  85. He kept his hands clean and nails trimmed, no matter what he’d been doing.
  86. He used to sing with me while decorating our Christmas tree. To the popular line “Do you hear what I hear?” dad would invariably sing a loud, “No!” then look at me and start laughing.
  87. One of the last things he said to me just before he died was, “I’ve gone to hell in a hand basket.”

May 2015_dad and daughters_aug 1959

If his grandchildren would like to know more, here are a few others.

Recollections from my mother:

  1. He had a way with words, especially the word “phantasmagoria.”
  2. He enjoyed seeing plays with good friends the Beals at the community college.
  3. He liked to play Scrabble on New Year’s Eve.
  4. He used to say, “Here comes Daddy-O” when entering the room.
  5. He liked to take the family dog Yippi for walks.
  6. He liked to go with mom for walks along the nearby Clackamas River.
  7. He liked to cook breakfast on Sunday mornings.
  8. He liked trying out new recipes.
  9. He was a pretty good cook.
  10. He always kept his shoes polished.
  11. He bought leather and made moccasins for the girls.
  12. He owned a shoe repair shop on 6th Avenue in Tacoma.

dads business card for shoe shop_june 2016

13. When we were dating, he repaired my high heels for free.

14. He always had a camera around his neck.

15. He loved wearing bow ties.

16. He pronounced wafer like “waffer.”

17. He loved to dance.

18. He loved his family.

19. He loved camping at Timothy Lake.

20. He loved our Chevy convertible.

21. He was proud of his family, what we did and accomplished.

22. He loved to chop wood.

23. He loved to read books, magazines, and newspapers.

24. He loved discussing a book after reading it.

25. He loved watching the squirrels and birds in our back yard.

From my sister:

1. He used to get up and watch us walk to grade school from the living room window.  We were never told this until years later.
2. Things that he did in his professional life were always for the greater good, he had great vision.
3. He loved his community and fought for things that would make things better.
4. He was instrumental in getting a High School in our city, prior to that high school children were bused to the HS in the city next to us.
5. He showed tremendous grace and strength in his last years.  The last three years of his life will be cherished by me, we had no hurdles, tendencies were cast aside, and we both knew what was to come.
6. He was on hospice for 7 weeks, we visited almost every day.
7. The morning after he passed, I had a moment alone with him while he was laying in his bed.  I put the back of my hand against his temple, it was cold like clay, the candle had burned out.  I knew at that moment his vibrant force had left his body…

May 2015_dad and daughters_south bell st_mid 60s

This turned out to be 119 things WE remember; I guess that means we’re good for 32 years.
Happy Birthday dad, from the people who love you most. ❤

26 thoughts on “The Things We Remember Most

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