Another Father’s Day has passed. It’s been five years June 24 since you’ve been gone. I’ve missed you terribly. You’d be 85 today.
You missed a lot.
I see all the postings on Facebook from people my age. Some have living parents, hale and healthy; some are frail and struggling. Many are gone.
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I see the pictures of confident young men in military uniforms, staring into the world of the 1940s and 1950s like they owned it, and they did. They survived the Great Depression, World War II, Korea and more.
You got a Bronze Star. Eh, you’d say, they were giving those out to everyone.
They and their wives built the greatest post-war economy anyone could conceive. They built suburbs, Ford Fairlanes, Boeing 707s, Edsels, Amana refrigerators, skyscrapers, the Apollo program, and then took a break to have a Pall Mall and a Seven and Seven.
Oh, and they raised kids. Some dads were emotionally present, some weren’t. They went to college on the GI Bill, worked at difficult jobs, took up golf, fishing, watching NBC’s Game of the Week, barbecues, martinis, you name it.
Kids watched a lot of stupid TV, played outside, grew their hair, smoked pot and worse, played incomprehensible music, and rebelled.
You sat back, lit another Pall Mall, poured another Seven and Seven, and told Mom to handle it. If we got out of hand, you would institute martial law until everyone straightened up and flew right.
You taught us how to make our beds like you did in the Army. We could never get the quarter to bounce on the blanket. We could barely get the contour sheet on.
If you decided to build something, you just built it. New rec room? No problem. New office? Not rocket science, just knock down the wall with a crowbar and wire it up. Easy.
Oh, and put soap on the screw when you tap it into the two by four. Makes it go in smooth.
Yours was the generation of the tool box. Black and Decker was your muse. The music of construction and repair flowed out of the garage and basement like a Benny Goodman solo. Oh, as the smoke drifted up into the living room.
You got up at 5 – “I beat the traffic. It’s best part of the day.”
The smell of the cigarette mixed with the coffee. You jumped into the aquamarine Impala wagon and went off to work.
All the work, all the cigarettes, all the Seven and Sevens, and all the stress catches up with a body and threatens it like a stalker every day after 50.
Hey, Dad? Remember when you said if you’d known you were going to live this long, you would have taken better care of yourself? We laughed.
I wish you could see the kids today. You would get winded bragging about them. Me too.
I won the awards, I got better at golf, my hair is kind of thinning, I go to the doctor as much as you did, and I’m pretty happy. I live in California now, not Oregon. I know, it’s not Minnesota.
Happy Belated Father’s Day. Consider this a card, and I still have all the World War II books I gave you. I read them to think about you. I open your tackle box. I see lures from 50 years ago.
I’m sorry if I let you down. Sometimes you let me down. I forgave you.
I love you. Wish you were here.
I’d make you a Seven and Seven.