Tomorrow is the anniversary of my Dad’s death and I’m missing him today. This time of year always sucks for me. Mom’s death was in mid Feb. My brother’s birthday is on the 26th and Dad’s death was March 1st and his birthday was March 31. He would have been 98 if he was alive as it was, he made it to 86 and was the first male in his family to live that long because of accidents and illness to others.
I was listening to John McCutcheon’s Boys in Green and it always makes me think the stories Dad would tell me of what he did to get by during the Depression and then he’s swear me to secrecy to never tell my Mom.
He told me about his time in the CCC and about working in Yosemite to clear currant bushes and wild blackberries out because they were considered pests. That it had been hot and sticky work and that he would have thousands of pricks from thorns at the end of the day.
He told me about his time as a hobo riding freight cars looking for work. He told me about learning to be a telegrapher for the railway and that the railroad employees were the first to be issued Social Security cards. Something that caused him problems the rest of his life because the number started with 701.
He told me about coming to California to live with his Aunt Mae whose husband was the editor of the Los Angeles Times Mirror. He was going to go to UCLA but WWII got in the way and after serving in the Army Calvary he finally graduated from UCLA and became an elementary school teacher.
My Dad was more of a mother than my mother. He was the one who changed our diapers, cleaned us up when we were hurt or sick, got up early to be with us on Saturday morning when it was just the farm report on and we had to wait for Buster Keaton movies and Mighty Mouse. He was also the one who blacked my eyes and occasionally beat the shit out of me but he also is the one who said he was sorry before he died and that healed almost all the wounds because I knew that unlike my mother who was indifferent at best to me, he cared.
He was the one who took us to museums and made sure the botany mad 10 year old got to see Luther Burbank’s house on a family vacation when everything else was famous authors and state and national parks.
I miss my daddy today and holding his big hand so like mine grew to be. I miss the smell of Old Spice, Brylcream and Aqua Velva.