Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blood, Frogs, and the Wicked Witch of the West

It was dark out there. There were shadows shaped like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz--in fact, I was dead sure I saw her riding her bike in the air past my window. Who could sleep with all that going on outside?

But he was patient and reassuring and even though I clung to him like I was being sucked under the pull of a rushing river, my dad took me outside. "See?" He pointed at our little tree in the front yard--the one that had transformed into the gnarled tree in the Wizard of Oz. "It's just our tree. It's the same as in the daytime." He pointed out everything in the yard and waited for me to stop shaking.

He killed the wasps that had stung my brother and me in the backyard of our new house, going in like a superhero to get rid of the nest. My brothers and I watched from behind the safety of the sliding glass door.

A lot of the other dads in the neighborhood worked at Boeing, with nothing very interesting to share, and they mowed their lawns in embarrassing outfits. My dad changed the oil in the car in his old Air Force pants and a pair of his old wingtip dress shoes. But he brought home amazing things from work--like the frog from his biology lab at the high school. Nobody else in the neighborhood got to dissect a frog or type their blood on the kitchen table.

He laughed when I practiced forging his distinctive signature.

He'd listen to entire plots from the Nancy Drew book I was reading and make funny comments. Even now, he'll listen to entire chapters of a book I'm working on, over the phone, from 3,000 miles away.

He got me a coveted spot on a soccer team, taught me the rules, and acted like I was good, even though everybody knew I sucked.

He taught me to appreciate what you have, to treat people with kindness, to share with others that don't have what you do,
and to never forget your sense of humor.

He taught me the importance of the written word, whether you are reading it, or writing it, yourself.

I love you, Dad! Happy Father's Day!


Clara Gillow Clark said...

Thank you for sharing wonderful memories of your father. My father was a hard-working farmer who died just after my sixth birthday, but I still have many treasured memories. I will never forget the pink coat he bought for me when a brown or gray coat would have been more practical for his little farm girl.

Annie said...

Clara: Your father sounds like he was a wonderful man! I can just picture that pink coat!