Thursday, October 21, 2010
"I've got tears in m'ears from cryin' over you."
That was a line in a song frequently played on the jukebox of a favorite little diner during my college days in Iowa. Another favorite was "who's gonna mow your lawn when I'm gone?". They don't write 'em like that any more. But that's beside the point of this post. When I slid into bed last night Spouse was already asleep. I started recounting a disturbing dream I'd had just before waking that morning. It was the same theme of other dreams I've been having lately. They all involve me making a bad decision and ending up lost somewhere I didn't want to be. Then it hit me: My Dad isn't here to offer his guidance anymore. As tears welled up, I squeezed my eyes closed trying to stop them. Of course that didn't work and they rolled down into my ears. I had to get up. Even though I'm passed the midpoint of my life I still need my Dad. It's hard to admit that. He could be and often was the harshest critic I ever knew. He felt it was his duty as a responsible father. On the other hand, he could make me feel so special and worthy. I could depend on him. He was always there to quietly take care of things like checking my tire pressure. If one was low he'd crank up his 1930s era air compressor to top it off. He was also a skilled, gentle splinter-remover. He seemed to know everything and was willing to share his knowledge but not his tools. Dad had an enormous collection of tools all of which he used with great skill. He kept a mental inventory of all of them and if anything was misplaced or damaged, he knew it. He had a table saw, sabre saw, cross-cut saw (whatever that is) and every screwdriver, hammer, wrench and gadget known to man. He loved peanut butter and collected the empty jars. Having made a frame, he nailed the lids to it. The jars held miscellaneous (sorted, of course) washers, screws, nails and other bits and pieces that he often found usefull. Being a practical man, he couldn't stand waste. He recycled long before America got serious about it. He fashioned our first barbeque from the wash tub of an old wringer washing machine. He made an elegant hanging lamp out of the lid with some sheet brass, plastic and a big cork from a bottle of something or other. It illuminated our dining room for years. He got a kick out of the curious and admiring looks guests gave it. My subconscious is working on me again. It was about this time three years ago that we learned Dad had cancer. In less than a month, he was gone. Some of us kids had suspected serious illness, but he had already decided to play the dying game his way. It had to have taken considerable strength and courage to keep going as if nothing was wrong. Sometimes I think I'm finished mourning. Times like this confirm that I'm not. Even though the hurt has less of an edge to it now, memories keep me from completely letting go. I think that's a good thing. In many ways I still need the anchor my Dad provided.