Saturday, June 14, 2008

Who Will Tell Me What To Do on Father's Day?

So, like, I saw this mug at Hallmark today that was perfect for my dad: “Ask Dad, he knows … and on the off chance that he doesn’t, he’ll make up something pretty good.” That’s so totally my dad. I’ve learned a lot of true facts of life from my father, and I’ve also learned a lot of not-so-true-but-sounds-really-good facts of fictional life from my father. My dad was, more than anything else, fun. Sure, you have to get past the he wants to control everything, which typically causes one to lose her voice and fall into tears after trying to cook with him in the kitchen, but overall—he’s a pretty good guy. He’s easy to laugh, he’s incredibly handsome, and he has this awesome piece of hair that he’s been babying for, like, twenty years.

Here’s a photo of dad and his two sons, Lloyd and Harold (great names, huh?). They’re at happy hour after golfing, laughing and forgiving him for his picking their names.

I love when my dad calls me at work. Most times, I know when he’s going to call. I go ahead and warn my co-workers so they’re not alarmed. Dad calls on holidays, birthdays, and days that I might have sent a surprise gift. Dad always calls as they’re driving to visit. Always. Dad doesn’t drive when mom and dad come up from Florida because dad doesn’t drive fast enough (according to mom). Mom, on the other hand, is a genuine speed demon straight from the nether regions. Thus, this ideal-for-dad driving situation leaves dad in the passenger seat directing mom’s every move and being the Commander of Communication to one waiting daughter. He’s so cute when he calls. Everyone at work knows it’s him. There is a constant song in my father’s voice. He makes everyone smile.

Here’s Dad about to walk me down the aisle. See that smile on his face? He’s about to make me laugh uncontrollably during this sacred moment. He can’t help cutting up and having a good time.

And why not? Dad and mom planned well. They did the right thing and lived for retirement instead of living for the now. Harold and I wore hand-me-down Izods and mom learned to competitive shop on the sale racks at Parisian’s. Mom and Dad now live in The Villages in Florida and drive golf carts instead of big, giant cars (unless visiting one of their three kids). They wake up and play tennis in the morning, golf in the afternoon, and hit happy hour at a local country club around 3:00. It’s probably for this reason that I do not phone my parents at night; I phone them in the early hours of the morning when their happy bodies are free of happy hour wine.

My dad taught me about the great you’ll-owe-me-a-quarter-game. For those of you not familiar with this game, it is the game wherein your father charges a small child a quarter for being wrong about menial things like turning off the garage light, picking up a sweater off the floor, or discovering if the milk truly is low. All my childhood life rang with this game as I was charged a grand total of what surely ranges around several thousands of dollars for being wrong when my father asked me if I’d done something. All fibbers please place your quarter here. I am one. He knew. He was way smarter than me. He milked me out of many quarters. These are the quarters that probably line his wine fridge now.

(Mr. Husband hates the quarter game. The score this week is three quarters to none.)

Here’s a photo of me and Dad on the tennis court in 2006. You can see by my placement actually on the court that he’s not yet made me cry and we appear still to be on decent speaking terms. None of his kids could ever be good enough partners for him in sports activities. That’s ok. I think that’s par for the course for most families. So we’re normal. Go Dad! It’s ok if you make me cry—I’ll forgive you in, like, twenty minutes and a glass of wine (because surely we’re hitting happy hour after this match).

Mr. Husband has learned quickly that dad is in charge for most things. Dad rules. Dad is our patriarch and the one who sets the game plan. It has been one of the most endearing experiences in my life to see my Mr. Husband and my Mr. Father get along and be together. Another thing my Dad did all my life is ask me to “be with him.” He would constantly yell from the other room, “Come be with me!” He’d be watching football or basketball and me, playing the role of diligent daughter, would go be with him. Of course, I made him tell me the stories about the teams and the players. I inserted girl stuff into the mix, but the important part is that I was with him. And, now, I get to see my Mr. Husband go be with my Mr. Father. They like each other. They are being … together. Even though one day, I imagine Mr. Husband will mount a grand coup to take down Mr. Father and his rule and his quarters, for now—they are just being.

Here you see Dad passing down the great family turkey secrets during a Thanksgiving carving session. Look how Mr. Husband is awe-inspired by Mr. Father's skill (and also probably scared some by the knife). Good Husband.

On Father’s Day, a girl always wants to be with her Father; however, my dad is happy in Florida on the golf course, and I am happy heading over to my in-law’s home for a cookout where I get to be with my new Father-in-Law. He’s a grill master and beer aficionado. He’s fun and he doesn’t tell me what to do. So, while he doesn’t quite feel like my Dad due to the lack of constant helpful direction in my simplest of activities, he is the perfect stand-in on Father’s Day. He is always eager to get outside and go exploring with Mr. Husband and me. He is a wealth of good advice and sometimes, much to his favor and my yearning, he suggests to us what we might consider doing. While he doesn’t golf or play tennis, he is a constant friend in our lives, meeting us for lunch, cooking us grilled foods, and teaching us about the history of the railroad in Birmingham (begins with Bessemer). Everyone calls him Pop.

Here is a recent photo of my three men on the back porch, huddled around the grill with spirits in hand, as my Mr. In-Law-Father grills steaks for my Mr. Husband and my Mr. Father. The three of them together is a perfect picture of who in my life tells me what to do. Go men!

One fun recent experience was taking Mr. In-Law-Father to Magic City Brewfest. We got sloshed in, like, forty-five minutes and had fun going from booth to booth to taste the different beers in tiny glasses. The three of us laughed while we drank our tiny beers and waited for the eminent rain that eventually came and forced us to run for grilled burgers at a local bar. Later this evening Mr. In-Law-Father will grill again on the back porch while six kids (three of his and three that are not his but appreciate him just the same) watch eagerly in hopes that it doesn't rain and that he doesn’t burn the steaks.

No tears. Grilled steaks. And beer.

Miss you, Dad.

1 comment:

facingthetrend said...

Your father-in-law has a mustache for the ages.