For Dad

Hi World,

It is a lonely old night. All of the chickens here are roosting and I’m thinking. If you came here looking for a laugh, I will disappoint you this time. Humor was not the available muse this evening.

Back in September, I disappeared for awhile from this place. At the time, my mother was very ill. She passed away towards the end of September. I never wrote about it because this is my fun place and, well, there’s nothing very funny about your mother dying. There are, however, many funny stories about my mother, who was unique in that you don’t often find the mind of a toddler trapped in the head of a grown woman, and I mean that in the very nicest way. I’ve been playing with the idea of telling some “Vi stories”, and one of these days I may, but tonight I’m here to talk about my father.

He went into the hospital a couple of weeks ago. To make a long story short, there were some ups and downs, but finally he was released, after a successful surgery, just in time for Christmas. Unfortunately, the surgery didn’t take. The day after Christmas I got a call; the kind that all of us dread, from my brother, letting me know that our Dad had passed away. There was nothing that could be done.

Again, I had no intention of writing about it, but then something funny happened. I was sitting around tonight, playing with my fancy new laptop (thanks BigB), and I decided to check out my site statistics. I was surprised to find that one old post had been resurrected, seemingly. Not remembering what it was about, I went back to read it and discovered that it was about my Dad and his way with nicknames. I took it as a sign, because I do that. I’m like Mel Gibson, with a pointed tinfoil hat on my head, always looking for signs. Signs and crop circles. Anyway, it seemed like the right time and the right thing to do, so I’m writing tonight about my father.

Wherever he is right now, he would probably want me to apologize that he won’t be getting out with the plow to dig all of you out of this nor’easter we’ve been hit by here in New England, so I’ll get that out of the way right up front.

There are many memories I will carry forward of my Dad, all of them good. He was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known. He was a great singer. Well, actually, he probably was not, but as a kid riding around with him, I always wondered why he was toiling away in manufacturing when he was obviously born for the Grand Ole Opry. He could sing along with those old 8 tracks like nobody’s business. Johnny Cash wishes he could have sung Ring of Fire like my Dad. And speaking of driving around with Dad, if we happened to stop at a store, we knew two things: 1.) We would have to wait in the car, but 2.) there would be m&ms or a Hershey bar in it for us. Make that three things: Nine times out of ten, Dad would run into someone he knew and stand there talking to them for 20 minutes. I think, cumulatively, about 2 years of my childhood were spent waiting for Dad to finish up a conversation.

There are a couple stories that are always the first to come to mind when I think of him and I’ll share those with you. The first made him my hero; the second convinced me he was omniscient.

When I was really young, we lived in a trailer park. One Christmas Eve we were hit with a bad storm. Sometime in the middle of the night, my parents realized our roof was caving in from the weight of the snow. Now, a young kid’s memory is faulty, but I remember him carrying me out of the trailer, through the snow, and to the safety of our car. In my memory he is barefoot. He was probably upset because Christmas was a BIG deal to my father. I don’t remember feeling upset about Christmas-I just remember thinking that my Dad was a hero. I was very focused, the way little kids can be, on this one idea of him being barefoot, and I kept going back to it, in my mind, and thinking to myself how cold his feet must have been. He probably wasn’t barefoot. I know that now. But he was a hero.

The second story has to do with one of my birthdays. Birthdays were also big in our house. Not as big as Christmas, I don’t think, but important. I was not a kid who lusted after stuff. I was more of a doer than a collector. That particular year, though, I did have a secret desire and it was for a yellow ten-speed bike I saw in a magazine. I started lusting after this beautiful sunshiney bike long before my birthday, and tried to think of the different ways I could earn money to buy it for myself. Well, my birthday came and my Dad said to me, “I heard you wanted a yellow ten-speed, but I couldn’t find one anywhere. Let’s go see if there’s another bike you like”. We went to Western Auto and I chose a maroon ten-speed for my birthday present that year. I loved that bike. But forget the bike-how the hell did he know what I wanted? I didn’t remember telling anyone. And what else did he know? I was a little worried about that because, frankly, I didn’t want my Dad stalking my adolescent mind, ferreting out all of my secrets, and I was now convinced that he could. If he knew about the bike, he might know I had kissed a boy at band camp. Eventually, I remembered that I had told my cousin, who probably told her mom, who told my mom, who told my dad, maybe, but back then I could conceive of no explanation other than the obvious fact that my father was reading my mind. Oh. The. Horror. I’m sure he would agree.

Okay, one more. My father loved the song, “Love me Tender”. At my wedding, he requested this for the father/daughter dance. I kind of brushed him off because I thought of it as a love song and innappropriate for the father/daughter dance. I went with some other song and I can’t even remember now what it was. At the time, I thought he came up with that off the top of his head, but a month later, when my older sister got married, he again requested it and I’m happy to say that she conceded. She made him wear a tuxedo, too, though, which I did not, so I’m gonna call that even, sort of. I do not remember if he requested it for my younger sister’s wedding or not, but he probably did. I got to thinking, what is the deal with this song? And I realized that for him it was probably a lullabye. I listened to it one day. It was a song about a tender love, and what is more tender than your love for your baby? It would have made a great father/daughter dance song.

I’m going to miss you so much, Dad. I didn’t see you often enough but every single day, I thought of you. I’m sorry I didn’t play that song at my wedding-I want a do over. And I wish that I had been with you at the end to carry you barefoot through the snow and safely into heaven. I’m glad your feet will never be cold again. I hope the food where you are is to your liking, but if it is not, remember, there’s not much you can do to ruin a hard-boiled egg:-) You’ll always be my hero.

To quote a Cheryl Wheeler song I’ve always liked, “we’re just bereft, not deserted, Lord knows your rest was deserved”. Rest well, Dad. We love you.

  26 comments for “For Dad

  1. December 28, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Chicken, I'm so sorry to hear about your father's passing. He sounds like he was a true prince among men.

    The stories you have shared with us here tonight are just a few of the myriad of memories and thoughts you will carry of him always. I feel humbled that you chose to share some of him with us.

    My condolences for your loss.


  2. Anonymous
    December 28, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Condolences, Chicken. No one should have to suffer the loss of both parents in such a short time. Our thoughts and hearts are with you.


  3. December 28, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    I am sooooo sorry for your loss. Both parents in such a short time.

    You are in my thoughts and prayers.


  4. December 28, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    That was beautiful, muffin. And you just go ahead and blog whatever you like. We think you're nifty even if you don't make us howl with laughter every single day. I like your squishy soft side, too. And no, that isn't a comment about your ass. Your ass is stellar. Focus, Chicken.


  5. December 28, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Oh, Chicken. I am so sorry for your loss. These stories demonstrate exactly what kind of man your father was. He loved Christmas and he got to have his last one with his family. Something tells me he is up with your mom asking her for a welcome back dance to “Love Me Tender.”

    This was a beautiful post and a great tribute to your father

    My thoughts are with you.


  6. December 28, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    I am so sorry for you loss. Love the touching stories, though, and so glad you shared…and damn you for making me cry this early in the day. I will never again hear the song Love Me Tender without thinking of you.


  7. December 28, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    My heart breaks for you my friend. We all can't be funny all the time and it's ok to not be.
    This is a beautiful post about a wonderful man. My thoughts are with you. Warm virtual hugs.


  8. December 28, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    awwwww, so sorry chicken. what a beautiful, heartfelt tribute. i'm so glad the signs were there for you to write it. he sounds like a tender loveable man.

    now i need to go slam dance to ring of fire to shake these tears.



  9. Anonymous
    December 29, 2010 at 1:39 am

    Wonderful tribute to your dad, Chicken. He would be proud.



  10. December 29, 2010 at 2:03 am

    My heart is breaking for you.
    He sounds like a true Hero!
    Prayers are with you and yours.
    I like to think your Mom and Dad are looking down and smiling because, I am sure they felt so much pride for having you as a daughter.


  11. December 29, 2010 at 3:39 am

    Chicken, I am so sorry for your loss. I don't know what to say. Reading the stories you told about your father, I could see an upstanding gentleman who loved and cared his family and friends with a sense of humor. You didn't say whether he had a hearty laugh, but when I was reading through in tears, I could hear him laugh. This is neither here nor there, but I love boiled eggs too. {{{{{hugs}}}}}}


  12. December 29, 2010 at 4:00 am

    I am in tears. Solid tears.

    I am so sorry.

    Total tears.


  13. December 29, 2010 at 5:04 am

    I deeply regret your loss understanding the feeling as I remember when my own father passed.
    I hope time will bring relief and understanding that he lives forever in your heart.


  14. December 29, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Beautiful. Poignant. Any father would be proud to have his daughter write such a wonderful tribute. Very sorry for your loss. I must go and finish crying now.


  15. December 30, 2010 at 12:58 am

    Okay, I cried. But,you also made me laugh…Mel Gibson and the pointy foil hat. Losing both parents in such a short time would be sad. Sad blogs or glad blogs from Chicken, I read then all.I hope your parents read your blog and were proud.


  16. December 30, 2010 at 2:26 am

    thank you everyone. Really. Thanks so much for the kind words and support. I'll get to each of you individually soon, but just wanted to say that.


  17. December 30, 2010 at 5:34 am

    Oh Chicken, I hate that life is so unfair sometimes. Two losses in such a short time…I am so so sorry.

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful memories.


  18. December 30, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Chicken, I am so very, very sorry for the loss of both of your parents.

    I lost my dad a few years back. He, too, was a singer of songs and a celebrator of life and a hero to all seven of us kids. A great man, indeed, gone far, far too soon. The good thing is for those kinds of souls, the gates of Heaven are swung open, the angels sing Johnny Cash and Elvis in their sweet serenades and they are ushered in with much rejoicing because another beautiful soul has joined the ranks.

    You know the Beatles sing, “And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.” It sounds like your dad sailed away on a big soft cloud of love.

    Keep telling his stories. It helps.

    I'll be here to listen. Take care my darling friend. And it's okay to be a sad blogger for awhile, if you need to be sad. Let your heart walk you through the path of grief. It took me a year to stop crying and if that's what it takes to help your heart mend, than let it be the way. I'll see you soon, dear Chicken.


  19. January 2, 2011 at 5:36 am

    Oh, Chicken.
    I'm so sorry. What a rough year. But such a beautiful post, I can almost see your Dad.

    A friend of mine, through a weird circumstance, became the penpal of a little girl battling cancer. She died a few months ago, and he was torn apart. I realized as I was talking to him the other day that I, who never met her, think about her and her family quite often, and so do a few of our other friends, and it's kind of an amazing thing that he's done. This little girl's memory is being carried by people she never met, because of him.
    And now, I carry your father's memory because of you, and so do all of your fans and friends, and that's kind of beautiful.
    Happy New Year, my lovely Chicken. I wish you peace and happiness, good health and laughter, and a year surrounded by love.


  20. January 3, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Thank you for this story.

    My father passed away when I was 6, but this was the kind of dad I dreamed of at night.

    I think you're going to be nursing a broken heart for quite a while, honey.

    So sorry for your loss. I really am.


  21. January 3, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    So sorry to hear this, Chicken. Sending good thoughts and prayers to you and your family.


  22. January 4, 2011 at 3:25 am

    this has been in my inbox for a week – I haven't known what to say. Other than this is a fabulous post for your dad. I'm so sorry for your loss.


  23. January 4, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    *internet hugs*


  24. January 9, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Oh, sweetie, I am so very, very sorry. I just read this today and wish I would have had my shit together to give you more timely condolences.

    My thoughts are with you.


  25. January 10, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Thanks everyone. We appreciate the kind thoughts, prayers and e-hugs


  26. January 11, 2011 at 4:53 am

    Sorry for your loss, Chicken. Your dad sounds like he was a wonderful man.


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