Category: Family

An Ode to Dad

Well another Father’s Day is upon us and as I sit here watching my two kids run through the house, play with each other, and do whatever else normal three and six year old kids, do I can’t help but think back and wonder how many of those moments my own dad had. My younger brother and I are two years and five months apart so just about the same space between my two kids. There were times that I can remember dad moving the coffee table out of the way so that we could wrestle as well as when he would get on all fours and my brother and I would climb on his back for a ride. My all time favorite though was when he would lay on the couch with one leg on the seat and the other up across the top and one of us would get a pillow and lay between his legs and watch t.v. together. On some occasions we were even the “fortunate” recipients of a bit of flatulence; a natural father/son thing to some and we as kids found it amusing naturally.

There are so many fond memories growing up of dad that it’s hard to sit here and think of all of them without getting some tears and knowing that obviously I can’t remember or write them all down. On more occasions than I can count he would announce he was going to the store and want to know if anyone wanted to go. Stupid question right? So dripping with excitement we would hurry up and get ready and off we went to Vermont Drugs or another store for his paper, milk, or other needed household items and always leave with some candy or even some baseball cards. We had our bad times too resulting in part from his own childhood and some of that flowed into us causing me to resent him for many years for things that had happened. It got so bad that when I got to be a teen I even once told him I hated him and found the strength to push him down. A moment in my past that I deeply regret in some ways but in others I don’t because it marked a pivotal point in our lives together.

Something broke that day as I was a senior in high school and I looked inside and saw what I was becoming and I think he saw what it had done to both of us and the damage that it had caused. From that day on I began to see my dad in a different light than I ever had before. For the first time in my life I was grown up enough to, instead of judge him for being too hard,  stand in his shoes to see why he was like he was. I began to see the loving, powerful, and honorable man who had a hard childhood but was doing his best to be better but still found failures no matter how hard he tried. He loved his boys in a way that they couldn’t imagine and was doing his best to show an emotion that could be so hard. He did anything and everything for us and we never wanted for anything we needed and we always knew we were loved. He always worked the long shifts, studied through his apprenticeship to better himself, and put himself through hell to make sure that his family had everything they needed. What more amazing still is that through all of that he always had time for us no matter how tired he was.

Now it’s about thirty years later I’m the dad watching my two kids dance around, run to the door when I get home, and shout with excitement when I ask if anyone wants to go to the store. It’s me who is on all fours giving rides, tickling them until they’re out of breath, and teaching them to beware of the “claw” (index finger curved like a claw to tickle with). Unfortunately though it’s also me who can tend to get mad at the dumb things kids do and lose my temper just like dad but when I do I have an example to look back on to help guide my response and temper my temper. My hope is that I can be half of the man my dad was and still is because we wasn’t a father to me at all, as a matter of fact he was far from it. He was a dad, my dad to be exact, and any male can be a father biologically speaking but it takes a real man to be a dad.

I hope one day I can be half the dad he was and still is to me.

Happy Dad’s Day Dad. Your oldest son still and always will love you.


Our unique traditions

Pretty much ever since the founding of our country there have been drastic differences between the northern states and southern states. One has always been more rural and agricultural while the other busier with traffic, construction, and industry but there is one thing that has always united the two and stood as common ground… summertime and the front porch.

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I was born in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan called Taylor, affectionately known as Taylor-tucky due to the population of citizens with southern roots, and I had vivid memories of sitting on our small front porch doing whatever it was that five, six, or seven year old boys did in summertime. The porch was only about eight feet by four feet so not very big and it was painted,  such things were done in the early 80’s, what is known as Blazer Red according to what Google said the proper name was. It had two steps leading down to a short sidewalk connected to our driveway and the porch itself was lined with black wrought iron rails. We would sit there just playing, launching a new enterprise (I had an idea once to collect and sell maple tree “helicopters” and sell tree seeds), feeding squirrels that dad had taught to take peanuts, or just enjoy some occasional watermelon. Now everyone knows the best part about watermelon and thus we come to the whole purpose of this posting… spitting watermelon seeds.

Every year our family, dad, mom, my younger brother, and I, would take a trip down to see my dad’s parents in Monroe, Tennessee just outside of Livingston in west Tennessee where all of our family is from for a week long visit which almost always guaranteed a watermelon snack. Grandpa always grew a large garden with just about anything you could think of and among them was our favorite… sugar baby watermelons. This variety is perfectly round and dark green in color so dark in fact that you can barely make out the stripes that watermelons typically have and, like a kids dream come true, they were dark red and always full of seeds. Sometimes they would be ready by the time we came down but others they would be almost ripe and a day or so into our visit he would go and pick the first one. Warm or cold it really didn’t matter as it was grandpa’s watermelon and it was sweet and just the thrill of watching him crack it open on the corner of the porch overshadowed all of that. As we slurped and munched naturally, boys being boys, we had to see how far we could spit the seeds. It makes for awesome memories now that I’m close to forty and we don’t make those trips anymore.

All of this came to my mind the other day as I was working in my department, I’m a produce manager by trade, and the local school was having a watermelon seed spitting contest and several parents came in asking if we carried seeded watermelons. Unfortunately we don’t so as I tried to empathize with them I apologized and when asked if I knew anyone who did carry them I honestly couldn’t think of anyone who did. It seems that in the early 2000’s seeded watermelons just began to become a thing of the past and got replaced by their genetically engineered cousins of the seedless variety. At first the taste wasn’t that great and the sweetness wasn’t there but after some work I personally have actually started to like them though I still prefer a seeded one. Which leads me to this big question… what are we going to do when there are no seeds to spit? You laugh I know but this question is a serious one to me and has had me thinking on it for the last three days. So many of my personal memories were surrounded by such activities and it bothers me to think that in a time when everyone is trying to make things more convenient and easier to use what are we sacrificing and what great fun and awesome memories are we missing out on?

To me summertime was made for kids jumping in creeks not knowing or caring what else was in there, running around bat nuts crazy without a care in the world, staying on a bike from sun rise to sun set, and of course spitting watermelon seeds either for distance or at each other. You see when we look for them even the slightest things in our daily lives can bring back great memories and before you know it you’re smiling thinking of a simpler time or even better yet it inspires your mind to wander and get creative. Life is short to let such simple things pass by without enjoying them even if all it is is spitting a watermelon seed.