Blog

My Dad – Mr. Fix-It

Our 924 Sq Ft House – It did not look like this back then.

Most of the summers in Ohio were warm, not hot. We lived in a ranch style house with no air conditioning. Summer meant open windows which allowed the air to float a cool breeze – just enough to move the sheer kitchen curtains aside.

My siblings, already moved out, left me the only remaining child at home. Saturdays mom often worked and I cleaned the house while dad puttered in the garage. He loved to work on the car of the moment, always fixing or tuning something to make the car run better.

“Hey, Maggie, bring me a glass of iced tea, will ya?” The request floated through the kitchen window from the garage and I knew what that meant. Dad was thirsty – and lonely.

My Dad was a social creature and he never relished working alone. I knew once I set foot in the garage, I wouldn’t be coming out anytime soon. This was not my first rodeo. I had to creep out there with stealth-like movements so as to set the iced-tea down and get back to the house before dad saw me. It was our ritual.

I almost made it this time. I set the glass down, turned and took one step.

“Where you goin’?” His head popped out of the hood of the car. “Sit with me while I drink my tea.”

I think back and grin. I loved that man so much. From the time I was a little girl and I would nap with him, my arm around his waist ‘keeping his back warm’. I knew we had a special connection. Even with all that, I was a teenager who wanted to talk on the phone and watch Bandstand, but I could never tell him no. I understood what he was feeling.

The other part of the ritual was that I rarely made it back to the house unless it was to do some required chore. Instead I hung out and kept my dad company.

“Hand me that 3/16th, will ya.”

“See if it will turn over now.” Click, click. “Hmm. Could be the alternator.”

Eventually, I would go back to the house tasked with calling the junk yard. My dad rarely went to a parts store unless it was absolutely necessary for the more consumable parts. Oh, how I hated calling the junk yard. They would invariably ask me questions I did not know the answer to. No cell phones then so each question was a trip back to the garage, then back to the house calling the junkyard back.

Points, plugs, starter, brushes, distributor cap, socket wrenches, timing belt – all part of our dialogue. Don’t ask me how an engine works. I would need to look it up. But the part names, I am familiar with.

My dad and I were pals. Buddies to the end. As an adult woman, he was easily my best friend, up until the day he passed away. Now, looking back, I would enjoy hanging out in the garage, handing him a wrench, and listening to the Cleveland Indians game on the radio in the background.

I would not mind one bit.

Blog

My Dad, Pulse and So Much More

IMG_1016

I have felt heaviness today. Admittedly, I did not sleep well last night after taking a dose of Dramamine. I could feel the wooziness of vertigo sitting menacingly on the sidelines. I set my clock so we could walk this morning. I knew when the clock went off I did not get the medication out of my system. But there are other reasons for the heavy feelings.

June 12, 1992, I arrived at work at about 7:30 am. I was anxious to get the next week’s work tidied up because then I was off on a trip from Maine to Virginia to see my Dad for Father’s Day. My work phone rang and I picked it up. It was my step-brother’s wife. She told me my father had passed away in his sleep. I was so angry and hurt. I packed up my things, told my boss I was leaving and I did not know when I would be back. The hours and days that followed were painful. I could scarcely breathe. My marriage was already falling apart and all I wanted in the world was a hug from my Dad. It was not meant to be. Perhaps another time, another day, I will write about those next few weeks, but not today. Today, I just want to remember my Dad.

On June 12, 2016, we would slowly hear and understand the horror of the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL. It is still hard to believe. 49 innocent people lost their lives that day — all due to hate and intolerance. I will not give space here to talk about the person who committed such a horrible crime, but I will give space to those who lost their lives.

The outpouring of love from the Orlando community was breathtaking. The loss was palpable. As the mother, aunt, and friend of so many people in the LGBTQ community I will always stand for equal rights for those people who our government and much of our society would deny. The sadness still washes over me like liquid fire. It was so senseless.

Add to that the dire situation with the pandemic and the racial inequality and protests going on in our country and across the world, it is sometimes more than I can shoulder.

Today, my thoughts center around loss, of course, but more about love. The kind of love we want for every person we hold dear should be the kind of love we show everyone.

I miss you, Daddy. SO VERY MUCH.

Blog

Happy Birthday, Daddy

Today is my father’s birthday. I miss his sense of humor and his wise counsel. When I see how many people live well into their 90s (my dad would be 93 today) I feel a certain longing I cannot adequately put into words. To think I could have had him in my life another 28 years seems unfathomable. To think he would have met all six of my grandchildren and all of his great-grandchildren is overwhelming. I wonder how lives might have been altered had he been a continued presence in our lives. But those are idle wishes of a daughter still missing her father after all these years.

Dad was not perfect by any means. I know that and he knew that. Still, he was such an important force in my life. It is his advice that rings in my ears even today. Perhaps he was not special to everyone, but to me he was everything.

My Dad always had hope. Even in the worst of times, he believed things could be better. I am not here to talk about those times — not here, not yet, not on his birthday. I am here to celebrate a once in a lifetime relationship that I know not all people experience. I wonder what he would have to say about the current world situation? He was a man of extreme faith and I think it saw him through a lot. I think he would have found hope and comfort that many of us are searching for.

DadDad had the deepest voice, a loud belly laugh and an infectious smile. He was lighthearted when he wanted to be and stoic when the situation required it. I miss him terribly — on this day especially.

So, Dad, Happy Birthday. You are never far from my thoughts. I still talk to you. I tell you about your six great-grandchildren. They would have loved you. From almost three to eighteen and ready to take on the world, they are quite the crew.

I know you knew how much I loved you and I knew how much you loved me. There was never a question of that in either of us. In so many ways, I wish you were here even if just for a chat on the phone and to sing Happy Birthday. All you ever wanted for any of us was love, health and happiness.

I hope we make you proud.

Blog

Keeping My Head Above Water

Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com

Day 263

I am so far behind on blog reading and responding to comments. I am an early riser so I have time to shower, catch up with hubby and have a cup of coffee before the day takes off. Then I have time when everyone goes to bed, but by then, I am exhausted and ready for sleep.

I tease my grandchildren and tell them that Grandma needs her rest and needs to go to bed early. Last night, we watched a Chipmunk movie and I heard my 6-year-old grandson talking to his sister. “It’s 8:38! It already past Grandma’s bedtime.” Ha! I am not that bad. We forget how much kids treasure staying up late, especially the first week of their summer vacation.

Yesterday was busy, but a few tender moments were on my mind.

It was the 27th anniversary of my Dad’s death. He passed so close to Father’s Day, it was a very hard loss. He was my best friend and I miss him every day. I do not live in the grief — instead I choose to remember him full of life with that spark in his eye. He would have loved seeing these rambunctious great-grandchildren of his. He was all about the little ones.

Yesterday was also the 3rd anniversary of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. I have family and friends in the LGBTQ community (wouldn’t it be nice if we were all of the same community?) which makes this hit home even more. It is so sad to remember this horrible shooting and so hard to realize nothing has been done in these intervening years to prevent such a tragedy from happening again. This morning I watched the video of Anderson Cooper reciting the names of the victims. It is a tough watch. Lest we forget…

I also took my granddaughter to get her hair washed and braided at the salon. Much to my surprise her brother wanted to come along. Luckily, it was a short appointment — just shy of an hour — so he survived!

Then it was home, dinner and a movie. A very full day indeed.

I find myself looking forward to going home this weekend. Not because I want to get away for I have loved every minute. God knew what he was doing when he gave children to the young and limber.

Hope to catch up some this weekend.