Sunday, May 4, 2008

Days Gone By...

On my way to work today, a song came on the radio - well, ok, mp3 player, but it was coming through my radio - and all of a sudden I found myself in 1976. The song was S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night by The Bay City Rollers. Do you remember that song? If you do you're older 'n dirt - like me *grin*

Anyways, there I was, cruising along at 70 mph 60 mph and my mind was 30 some years and several states away...I could remember my cousin and I having a "dance contest" to that song, and my dad was the judge. I thought I was a shoe-in (my Dad was the judge), and I remember how floored I was when he said she was better. I didn't cry (though I wanted to, sheesh I was what..? 7? 8?) but it did motivate me to get better. My Dad was my Daddy. He was God in my world, and to disappoint him was to have the sun struck from the sky.

My dad was, well, he was different from all the other dads. He was in the military, he fought in the Korean War, spent 4 years on Okinawa. He owned a bar/restaurant, he fixed things and made things and built things. He turned an old bowling alley into a supper club - in the middle of nowhere, 2 miles beyond bumf*ck - that was always packed. They served a $30 surf & turf meal in 1976. When they bought that property, the house - an old farm house, two-story, three huge bedrooms & full bathroom up and two more bedrooms, living room, dining room, pantry and full bath down, plus full basemant that went not only under the house, but also under the bar - was attached to the bar. He literally picked the house up and moved it to the back property. He was "Big Joe" and nobody messed with Joe.

He cooked. He was the one who got me up for school, or took me if I missed the bus. He was patient, and smart. He would always have time for me. If the bar was packed, and I came out there (this was WI in the 70's, legal age was 18, and to this day there is no minimum age requirement to enter a bar there. Hell, I was serving drinks before I could see over the he would acknowledge me, take care of me, and take me back to the house. I can remember faking being asleep in the car, as late as 10 ys old, just so he would carry me in. One of my favorite things in the world was when my mom would drive (very rare occurrence) and I could sit on Daddy's lap in the front seat! He took me swimming, fishing, boating. When there were wedding receptions held in "the hall," before it became the supper club, all of us kids would go out into the hall and join in, playing with kids from the party, dancing when the bands played. I can remember standing on his feet and slow dancing with him...LOL. He was always there.

I remember when my sister was born pre-maturely, and my mom almost died from septicemia(sp?) (a piece of the placenta was left inside her). I was seven and really had no idea what was going on. I have no doubt he was in misery, he thought his wife was dying, he had a newborn daughter and a seven year old to deal with, but he came home to be with me every night of those two long weeks.

He'd let me paint the walls he built, he'd let me hammer in nails, and hold the boards. He let me "work on" cars when he still had the garage. According to stories I've heard, he rarely went anywhere without me as an infant. He would drive me around with the music blaring in the car, 'cuz that was the only way to get me to sleep...

I was sixteen when he died. I had been 16 for all of three weeks. I'm fairly certain I broke his heart into a million pieces, I was a wild child, belligerent, independent, a runaway (numerous times), and was in a "girl's school" when he died. I had had a furlough for a week, and had gotten to see him, if you can call it that. Cancer took him. It was an ugly thing, to see the first love of my life (and he truly was - shouldn't all fathers be so, for their daughters?), that strong, vital God of a man, lying in a Hospice bed, down to 98 lbs (he was 6'1", probably 205ish, in military condition, physically), his skin hanging on his frame, yellowed. His hair all but gone, and what was left turned grey. He was 52 when he died. When I had to leave, he hugged me, and wouldn't let go. Like he knew he'd never get to hug me again... still hurts, almost 30 years later, and still the tears have come.

There's so much...he never saw his grandkids. He would have loved this boy of mine - he would have loved all of them, but I think Shayne would have been a favorite - that's just the kinda kid he is. How much different would my life have been, had he lived to an old age? No one will ever know, and honestly, speculation is pointless. I have a good life (now), a wonderful husband, two awesome sons, a daughter-in-law any woman could be proud of, and two sweet grandbabies of my own. But still, Daddy, I miss you more that you could ever have guessed I would...

The anniversary of his death comes around every year, and it is what I call "My Bad Day." Not only is it the date he died, I had gallbladder surgery on that date two years later, and down the road, my mom had 5 heart attacks on that day, and a year later two more, same date. I try to stay home and safe on February 27th, whenever it is at all possible. Hmmmm...another Thing, do you think?

Wow...I'm not sure where all of that came from. Not what I had in mind when I sat down...well, ok, not what I had in the front of my mind and planned to write, but apparently it has been hovering around the back of my mind, and managed to shove it's way out through my fingers, and so there it is.

I hear my bed calling. My sweet boy is already asleep in there. Daddy is racing, so we get to snuggle in Mommy's bed, like in the mornings, but better (so he says).



Dwayne said...

What a great story there. I really am speechless as far as what to say after reading it.

Nogard's Lair said...

I'm in shock that anyone else knows that it was the Bay City Rollers that did that song! I thought I was the last person on this planet to remember them and that song!

It sounds like your dad would have loved to have read your post about him. To know you had gotten past the crazy teen years and grown up to be who you are today.

Live, Laugh, Blog said...

That was a great tribute to your dad. I'm sure he would've loved hearing it. I'm sure you made him proud.

by the way, there's a little present over at my blog if you want to come over and look! :)

Sandy said...

Wonderful, absolutely wonderful. And I am sure your father is somewhere - somewhere watching you and your life - and smiling.