Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day


       I'm wearing all blue today- at least my shirt and jeans are blue. The other day I had green on, just because I happened to grab a green shirt out of the closet. I guess if I were to go out in public today I might be scrutinized for my apparel, perhaps even pinched for not  wearing a bit of green . After all, it is St. Patrick's Day and green is the color of the day, although I read that ol' St. Patrick's colors were originally blue. It was changed to green to celebrate Ireland's independence if I recall correctly. Either way, it doesn't much matter to me, although I love the color green and I truly enjoy Celtic music and Irish dancing. I've got several Michael Flattley videos that I really like and if I had a glass of green beer I'd probably imbibe, although it's not yet noon. This day is memorable for me not because of an Irish saint, but because today is the day my dad died seven years ago. I was thinking about it last night when I went to bed. I didn't attend my father's funeral, he'd died several months after I had visited him and mom down in Florida. Aside from the obvious expense, I wanted to remember him the way he was the last time I'd seen him. Of course he'd aged considerably, as we all do if we live long enough. He still maintained a fairly disciplined life in some respects; going to bed early, and rising early. He enjoyed reading the paper in the morning first thing and had a ritual of going to a gas station on the corner and buying a couple of doughnuts and some coffee and heading down to a park near the marina where he could look out in the bay and watch the pelicans dive and the boats go sailing by on the breeze. The last time I visited I took part in the ritual, sitting on his favorite bench and drinking coffee and just enjoying the morning. We took a walk around the park and he pointed out a nest  an osprey had frequented. He was suffering from COPD and couldn't walk too fast or too long without stopping to rest, but at every rest stop there was something to see and enjoy. He loved beautiful things, flowers and sunsets and nature in general. He never made it up to see us in Alaska, though I know that if he had come he would have loved it. Like many older people he had developed a sweet tooth, although it wasn't especially a new thing. When I was still living at home I remember sitting at the table after dinner and dad asked if we had any cookies or other sweet treats. When my mom replied no, he was disappointed and said, "what's the point of eating supper if there isn't any dessert?" I felt like it was a valid argument. On my last visit I opened the refrigerator and discovered six or eight partially opened containers of ice cream. I don't know if he just forgot that they were there or he was afraid the store would run out during some emergency and he would be caught short. If you're stuck inside during a hurricane, no doubt ice cream is a great comfort food. Dad was always a very capable man. He owned a construction business back in Ohio, as well a concrete company. In his forties he decided he wanted to learn how to fly and liked it so much he bought an airplane. In his younger years he built a sailboat and helped start an archery club and was a very good artist. When he moved to Florida he again started a construction business, then a garage door business and finally a business installing gates on fancy homes. He worked until he was seventy two and only reluctantly retired. I think it bothered him that as he aged he couldn't do things he used to. He confessed that he had been in a minor car accident that was his fault- he just didn't see the other car coming. He was angry at himself and embarrassed.  I wish that I had done an interview with him before he passed on. Of course I knew him growing up, but the dad you know as a kid and the one you know when you have kids of your own is very different. Like all people, we go through a change as we approach different stages of our life. Anyway, I'm glad for the time we did have; I wish there had been more, but we each had to go down the paths of our lives. Perhaps tonight I'll raise a glass in Dad's honor, or maybe I'll go get a half gallon of ice cream and raise a spoon instead.

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