Because of camp I have been lax on actually updating you with thoughts from my life so I thought I would take a moment and remember what the keys feel underneath my fingers while I try to share a few things.
I have to say that the hardest day of the year for me now is Father’s Day. It wasn’t that way before Nathan, but now it is. Maybe it has to do with having to face a week of camp right before it for the past 3 years, but I find myself feeling melancholy all day.
You see, Nathan is too young for it to be a day about him and me, so I find myself thinking of my own father. I keep thinking about how cool he would find Nathan and just how proud he would be of me. I am a pretty messed up guy sometimes, but I know my dad would be tickled pick about me and about his precious little grandson. So on Father’s Day I find myself going through the motions trying to smile and trying to look like I am happy to be at church, but mostly I am just trying my best to get through the day to the point where it can just be Meredith, Nathan, and I alone and I can stop acting like I am alright.
But since you guys don’t know my dad, let me tell you what I remember. It has been 18 years since he died and I was just 15 at the time so take what I say here with a grain of salt, but this is what I remember.
I remember the way his clothes smelled when he came how from building tires at the plant. I remember all the beard styles he liked to wear. I remember thinking that I was smarter than him because he just worked in a factory and I knew I was going to college. I remember waking up one day and regretting that I never got a chance to tell him that I see now how much he really did know. I remember the way he would laugh and how his whole face would get involved in the act. I remember him loud and alive and animated. I remember tears in his eyes when he talked about God. I remember catching him reading his Bible at night. I remember him singing with the “men’s” choir at our little church and singing the bass part of “Just a Little Talk with Jesus” even though he couldn’t sing. I remember slipping out of church on Homecoming afternoons while the singing was still going on and walking out to the metal washtub filled with ice and bottled drinks. I remember sitting on the back of the truck with him while we drank our drinks together. I remember going with him to the place that he hung out in the mornings and having people call me “Little Dumb Chuck” because he was “Big Dumb Chuck” to some of them. I can remember feeling so proud that people thought I was like him, and I can remember even at that young age noticing the hurt on his face when they called him that in front of me. I remember going with him to a garage to “pitch washers” with his friends. I remember when it was just dad and me when Mom and Sumer and Gran were off at school and we would sleep in the same bed at night. I remember that every night he would lay his arm out and let me sleep on it and now that I am a dad and I know how quickly that arm falls asleep I keep thinking over and over again how much he must have loved that time or else why would he have done it. I remember driving with him for hours on end in Ballard county as we went from fishing place to fishing place. We didn’t talk about sports (neither he nor I were super into sports back then) so I have no clue what we talked about. I know it must have been just kid stuff. When I think of he and I driving together while he listened to me talk about Star Wars or G.I. Joe or whatever new fact that I had learned (that I now know that he already knew) I am in awe of how much this man loved me. I remember the few times that I saw him make mistakes. I remember the few times I saw him embarrassed or upset. I remember seeing him do things that he wasn’t proud of and now its is these things that make me love him even more because as a 15 year old you don’t get to see much of your dad as a person and not as some mythical “parent” figure so these moments were moments that made me understand who he was as an adult. And right now in my life there are few things I wouldn’t trade for a chance to know him that way. I remember him smoking Marlboro Reds and drinking Sundrop and playing softball and scratching his back against the door frame. I remember him hanging out with my friends and having jokes about them. I remember more talks that I can share here, talks about love and relationships and sex and fishing and God. I remember and use countless phrases that came from his lips. Ask me what I am doing and you are likely to hear me say “Roller skating on a peeled onion” which was my father’s line. If I want something from you I am apt to say “Where’s that ______ you been bragging about” which I heard my father say so many times that I just made it my own. I am so much of him now. I see that in my son’s face. I hear that in my voice. I am my father in many many ways, and that is probably one of the things in my life that I am most proud about.