A Conversation With Dad

Preface: I wrote this several months ago, and because it includes feelings about my Dad, I left it in draft form so I could reflect on it more before I posted it. I forgot that I opened with my admiration of Maya Angelou. At the time this was written she was living, and I am leaving the opening paragraph as I originally wrote it.

If I were given the honor, the privilege, of having conversation over tea with anyone, it would be beyond difficult to choose. I would, however, likely be enjoying tiny cucumber sandwiches this very moment with Dr. Maya Angelou as we discuss (more like, as I listen to) how to solve the world’s problems. She would be my choice for all the obvious reasons: she is a strong and wise woman; she has experienced more than most of us ever will; she is a humanitarian; and she is an incredibly gifted writer and story teller. Tea with Ms. Angelou would be intriguing and splendid, and it would not only make my day, it would make my life.

Still one of my favorite books.

In real life, I had the pleasure of taking my niece, Jakie, to tea when she was a little girl. Complete with fancy hats and boas, we sipped and ate and chit-chatted. It was a joy to see how much she loved it, and I’ll always treasure that memory of her feeling special in that moment. It’s those little snippets of closeness with loved ones that remind me how blessed I am. So I’ll stick with my cherished friends and family for tea and parties and life in general.

But when I get to thinking about who I’d most like to have a conversation with, it’s my Dad. Not only because I miss him terribly (he passed away 15 years ago), but because I never took the opportunity to truly talk with him. We were very close, but we were also two similarly introverted people. Mom says she always knew where to find me – where Dad was. We wouldn’t necessarily be interacting, but we simply would be in the same room. Dad would be reading the paper and I would be next to him doing my homework. Dad would be changing the oil in his old, green Biscayne, and I would be a few feet away shining the bumper on my Impala with steel wool just as he taught me. No words spoken, just nearness.

Dad loved tinkering with the vehicles.

I am so thankful for and treasure the time I had with Dad. We weren’t always reserved; we had some great laughs – usually at each other’s expense. The time he snapped a picture of his own eyeball instead of me and my friend Janie (yes, the flash was on). He would drive me around to take pictures of the fall colors, tadpole catching for biology class, and he taught me to shoot a .22 rifle.

Dad served in World War II, and I regret that we didn’t talk much about that. He was reluctant to discuss it, but I can’t shake the feeling that if I had continued to talk with him he would have eventually shared more. I never asked him about his family – his parents, his brothers and sisters. I met my Aunts and Uncles but only a handful of times. I may have seen my Uncle Frank once in my life. My Grandparents passed when I was a baby, and I’m sure Dad would have loved to tell me about them…had I asked.

Dad, center, and his brothers (Uncle Ivan and Uncle Frank).

There is no going back and changing the past, and again, I am thankful for every moment I was given with my Dad. I try to not make the same mistake with Mom and, as a result, we have some pretty interesting and heated conversations, and we have fun. She and Dad were opposites. For all of Dad’s stability and predictability, Mom was (and still is) a fiercely independent wild card. But I listen when she talks about her childhood, and although we don’t agree on contemporary issues, I certainly know her opinion. She is a pistol. All 4’11” of her. As much as I regret not knowing these things about my father, I am blessed to know them about my mother.

Mom and I at Hilton Head Island, SC.

The irony, the beauty, is that I was a Daddy’s girl, yet through the years I have become equally as close with my Mom. Dad would like that. I learned so much from my father, and what he continues to teach me since his passing is that each moment is a gift. Take the time to talk, to be interested, to be present. What Mom teaches me is that each moment is unique and unpredictable; each moment is worthy of being memorable. Here’s to cherished memories, and to always making more.