Those Were The Days

Father’s Day has been different for me over the years. My father died on Father’s Day in 1994. It’s ok, don’t be all sad, he planned the big exit so we would never forget. 22 years ago today on the 19th of June.

Honestly, I always thought it would be Christmas, the big guns of the holidays, but having your father die on Father’s Day…well-played Jim, well-played indeed.

This was a man with a very large presence, who wanted to be remembered in a very grand way, so I would say…mission accomplished dad.

My dad was almost 58 when I born..oops, which made my childhood a tad interesting, to say the least. It’s funny because I never thought my dad was old, he was just my dad. Until that Summer afternoon in my driveway when my best friend invited me to come to her Grams surprise 60th birthday party. She informed me it was going to be a big party because 60 is really old. This moment was equivalent having a friend fill you in on the whole Santa hoax. Wadda mean really old? 

Needless to say, the lightbulb went off, the calculator in my head was hard at work and 68 is the final answer. Should I be afraid that the Grim Reaper is lurking in the shadows?  Yes, which is exactly what I did from that moment forward. Side note: My mother was 20 years younger, just in case you were going to look me up in the Guinness Book of World Records as the baby born to the oldest woman or something.

He certainly didn’t act old. We went to the shore, amusement parks, and rides to Lancaster, just because he liked chicken and dumplings. We drove for ice-cream on a whim to a special place 45 minutes away, because it was better. We did everything the kids with a young dad did, just with more gray hair.

Mom? Dad?

As I said my dad had a big personality. He was a Jimmy Hoffa/Archie Bunker (without the bigotry) all rolled into one. If he had something to say, he said it. If you crossed him…be afraid. If there was wrong to be righted, he got the job done. How? Who knows and it’s probably better to leave some things to the imagination.

He was a feisty free spirit who lived his life according to his own set of rules. He was loud, stubborn, demanding, certainly not boring, full of life and definitely had a good sense of humor. He never smoked or drank a day in his life, which most likely helped him in the end. I couldn’t even imagine an alcohol induced Jim…I think I just got goose bumps at that thought. 

He was a Teamster and drove a truck for a living, but retired when I went to first grade. So in 1971 he became the stay at home dad and my mother went to work. Let’s just draw some more attention to ourselves as being different shall we?

However, my mother was still required to cook & clean..come on now he was still the man of the house for god sakes it was 1971!

Both of my parents were very politically active during my childhood, so although he was retired from his job he always had something going on politically. He did go back to work part-time until he was 81. His motto was “always work hard, but remember you’re only a number”  and today my siblings and I are all incredibly loyal hard-working adults, despite being a number.

When my dad was 81 he lost part of his foot to diabetes. This was after Dr. Jim decided he would remove his ingrown toenail with pliers. Feel free to read that line again, yes you did read “pliers” and  yes, as in the tool in the garage. 

Of course no one knew how bad it was until it was too late. My mother had to retire at that point to care for him for the next 7 years. She refers to that time as “serving her sentence.”  The woman is a saint! There isn’t a jury in the land that would convict her if she accidentally sat on that pillow on his face…trust me. 

Jim was the worst patient in the ENTIRE world. Try telling an old free spirit …”you can’t”. The sentence “you can’t drive anymore, we need to take your license” was a million times more deadly than that gangrenous foot … for all of us. 

Although, I know there were highways out there cheering with joy that Mr. Magoo was finally parked for good. Sitting in the passenger seat could cure even the worst case of constipation.

Honestly, when the man behind the wheel is saying “I’ll drive wherever the hell I want..I pay my taxes” as your entering the street with the red and white DO NOT ENTER sign, you know why your bowels are rumbling!

Although I was born to an older dad, I was fortunate that he hung around long enough to meet my daughter. I found out I was pregnant with my son the day before his funeral. This was a huge surprise, considering I had no recollection of having sex. But, according to that blue plus sign on the stick, I did. My first thought was “Oh, shit!” and rightfully so, because sure enough, there is a stubborn, demanding, free-spirited, out-spoken young man, who looks  very much like my dad, living in my house.

Just remember folks, at 58 my father lived another life. He died when I was 30 years old. So he raised me, watched me get married… twice, became a grandfather for the 7th time and taught me a valuable lesson … you’re never too old to Enjoy the Ride! 

40 responses

  1. That was wonderful! Your parents sound like incredible people 🙂

    1. My sister would beg to differ with your description, but I agree…incredibly different but I wouldn’t trade it.

  2. Michelle Gillies | Reply

    Ah, the things we learn on street corners as children. The stuff of nightmares.
    You have some wonderful memories and I appreciate you sharing them with us.

    1. You’re not kidding! God help you if your friends have older siblings…the keepers of all secrets..lol

  3. free penny press | Reply

    Oh I liked this post.. I used to feel sorry to people whose parents were much older when they were born, but you have killed that pity and I am glad..How fun your Dad was..
    Happy Father’s day to your Dad!!!!

    1. I was very fortunate that he didn’t act his age…some days any way.

  4. Great tribute to your Dad. Sound like he was fun. You are only as old as you feel and I usually feel pretty young. I had you on my mind all day yesterday, glad to see your post today. Have a great day.

    1. I was having such a trying day yesterday..ugh..maybe you sensed it…weird.

      1. I don’t know, all I know is that you were on my mind all day yesterday. I almost tried to private message you to see if you were okay. Hope today was better. Have a good week.

  5. Tops, I do think we are the same person. You have my name AND my Dad. Same guy. Seriously.

    Only mine did die on Christmas … because he was so damn competitive (http://fiftyfourandahalf.com/2011/12/02/both-sides-now/).

    Thanks for this wonderful visit with Dad.

    1. O MY GOD! That is insane…and my dad would so die on Christmas just to spite the other 2..it wouldn’t even be a question…lol! Did your dad happen to be a Leo?

  6. I’m with your dad. Love the free spirit. You have to enjoy life. My lovely bride pegs me at 15 years old on the age scale (I’m 53 🙂 !), but I usually reply that I’m more like 13. hehe

    1. Hahahaha … sounds very familiar. Your wife is also a saint..lol

      1. Funny, that’s EXACTLY what she says!! 😉

  7. I love it! He sounds like a real character, living fully every moment! Sounds like he lived life with the top down!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing him with us!

  8. A really nice tribute to your dad on father’s day.

  9. I love your humorous description of your dad! I agree that age is just a number. He sounds like a real character that really would have enjoyed your story about him.
    Very nice tribute!

  10. Great tribute to your dad, really enjoyed it.

  11. How did I miss this? I’m sorry. It’s so candid and I agree, age is merely a number. He sounded great and quality is the key anyway and look how you turned out. It’s too bad though he can’t read your prose. He would have been proud. Keep writing!!!!

  12. To pass away on the Father’s day… Your father made a Grand Exit indeed. May he rest in peace.

  13. Reblogged this on Life With The Top Down and commented:

    HAPPY FATHER’S DAY GUYS!

  14. old is relative – it is when you are breathing and STOP living that one becomes old…. thanks for sharing your memories of your dad…..

  15. Thanks for reposting this tribute. I read it before and loved it this time around to. Here’s to Dads and what they make of their children!

  16. Happy Father’s Day to Jim, wherever he is. You are a heckuva good story teller.

  17. reread this, still wonderful! Love it,

  18. ciao! no one takes your memories. precious one you shared.thanks.
    thebestdressup

  19. I’m so glad I read this, thanks for the ride.

    This is what a Father’s Day Post is all about!

  20. I’m so glad I read this, this is what a Father’s Day Post is all about… thanks for the ride!

  21. What lovely memories you have! You’re very fortunate to have those. Somehow, I think I can see you driving like your dad & it’s cracking me up! Thanks for sharing and, as always, bringing a smile 🙂

  22. I never lived up to my father’s expectations. For a while I was trying to find out what they were and later finding they didn’t suit me. He died diappointed in me. He died at work in his liquor store moving a case of Budweiser, it was the jjob he wanted me to do.

  23. I can’t believe I am almost reading the story of my own life! Dad was 20 years older than Mom and my Dad was an unforgettable character too. He died when I was 24 and had just had a baby son. He was outspoken, sometimes tactless, a lot like Archie Bunker without too much prejudice. He was a house painter and taught me how to mix oil paints. He quit working at 75 and my Mom went to work, but she was still expected to keep the house clean (although he did a lot of the cooking). You are not alone my friend. Think of me as your twin – or maybe our Dads were related! 🙂

  24. Great story. Thanks for sharing your life and memory of your Dad. Mine died seven years ago on June 8, right before my daughter’s BD. Take care, BTG

  25. My Dad was 45 when I was born and at that time that was old. However in our house, my mother was the Archie Bunker type and my Dad was the saint. I lost him when I was 10 and still miss him. Thanks for allowing us all to relieve our memories.

  26. Amen sister. Live large. Be generous. Thanks for sharing.

  27. If you’re not larger than life, you’re living it wrong.

  28. love this post… so good to read your writing, hope all is well. DAF

  29. I just read this again…it’s very poignant. Can’t believe he died on Father’s Day. The irony.

  30. What a moving and wonderful tribute to your Dad. Mine sounded very much the same on the righteous stuff ! At 58 the grim reaper is gonna have to run to catch up with me !!!! 🌷

  31. Thank you. I AM A NUMBER. It’s going right up on the wall, so any time delusions of grandeur come knocking, I’ll be ready. And ok, ok, no more whining about being 58. Plus, no one is ever getting anywhere near my toes with pliers.

    With his amazing life skills, your son not only carries on family tradition, but is your guarantee that life will never be boring. That’s a good thing. Honest. P.S. Hope your husband at least remembered the big night.

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