When I think of my father, I remember a charismatic man. It was easy to see how my mother fell in love with him. He was the type of person who could befriend and charm anyone. He was a natural storyteller. As long as he would talk, his stories made even the most mundane tasks fun.
He was tall, the skin on his arms and face was always bronzed as though he had been out in the sun. Off and on throughout the years he would grow a mustache. Then he would decide he needed a change and off it would come. Even when he turned 60, he still had coal black hair with few grays. Of course, he didn't have much hair left, time and cancer had taken their toll.
I was Daddy's little girl growing up. I gravitated more to his company than that of my mother's. Maybe because in some ways my mother and I were to much alike. I to was quiet and more introspective, eager to please the people around me.
He loved baseball. He also liked older model cars and vintage records. He had a room filled with model trucks and cars and baseball hats. Our spare bedroom would not accommodate overnight guests, only his hobbies. Vintage glass bottles lined shelves that he had made himself. The hats hung on the walls. Hours were spent meticulously piecing together the models that he held deftly between his hands.
He loved practical jokes and would laugh the loudest when I would hide my toy snake (remember those plastic ones that if you held their tale and maneuvered your wrist, they would slither) in their bed on the side where my mother slept. We always knew when she was getting in bed by the piercing screams. She would come stomping in my room with the snake, trying not to laugh saying, "Just you wait. I WILL get you back."
He was a provider, teacher of sorts, coach, father, husband, and worker. He taught my sister and me how to play softball. He would throw balls to us or help us practice our batting before games. I needed all the help I could get since I threw like a girl but my redeeming quality was that I loved to slide into bases. What was a little dirt between the thrill of beating a ball to base and the chance to get dirty.
He was also a guinea pig who let me try to cook in my mother's kitchen. My mom didn't like to give up control of her domain. Once when she was working, I tried to make peanut butter cookies and mixed up the measurements and the ingredients. I used a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon to measure the salt and accidentally substituted baking soda for baking powder (or was it the opposite). Regardless, they looked like pancakes and tasted foul. My father gamely tasted them and kindly suggested that they would probably turn out better next time.
Mr. Fix-it he was not. Dependable, not so much. He had flaws but everyone seemed to overlook them. Well, not everyone. In my grandparents era, he would have been referred to as a scamp. From what I remember as a child, he never did quite seem to win them over. Yet, he always had a sea of friends and my mom loved him as did we kids. He was the only dad my half-sister ever really knew.
These are my memories of my father.
My only regret is not recording more of my father's stories in my journal. Most of his contemporaries have passed away so sometimes I feel as though I have lost a part of him. It is bittersweet. Yet, I still have my memories of him. Those I carry with me.