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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mailman in Shining Armor

My father could be a great conversationalist, but he was more often a story teller. A commentator. Sometimes a dictator. Oh sure, a benevolent dictator, but a dictator nonetheless. (I think I inherited that from him and I'm not nearly as unhappy about that as I probably should be, but I digress...)

Some of the things Daddy said were arranged so that you might think you were having a conversation. But you were really being directed.

As I mentioned in Part 3, my father's soft heart shone through, even in some of the dictatorial moments.

He found a shaggy, flea-ridden, puppy behind a dumpster on his rural mail route one hot summer day when I was in high school. He put her in his car, gave her melted ice from his Coke, and drove around the rest of the route with a scroungy little passenger. We already had two dogs. When he came home with her that afternoon, Daddy poured himself a glass of iced tea (sweetened, of course), suggested we I make a pot of fresh coffee, got his newspaper, and settled himself in a lawn chair in the shade of the back yard. There transpired a series of directions to me, each issued with a heavy sigh as he took a break from his newspaper.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fond Memories and No Hope

Now for the good stuff

Father's Day snuck up on me this year. This first one without Daddy was especially bittersweet. It seemed like a good time to think about the stuff he said.

In Part 2 I explained that my father spoke with a certainty that made it almost impossible to tell if he was sharing factual information or messing with you for the sheer pleasure of messing with you. It occurs to me that it won't be nearly as amusing to see the things in print. You really had to look into his face and hear him say these things to experience the humor. But since I can't re-create the family moments, we'll just have to do the best we can with the written word.

Some of my personal favorites:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It's a well known fact!

After great pain, a formal feeling comes

As I mentioned in Part 1, my father has always had a wicked cool sense of humor and a sharp mind. I grew up surrounded by observational humor and deadpan delivery of sometimes outrageous statements. I took it for granted.

I won't get to hear much of that deadpan delivery again. Not unless I hear it remembered in family stories. Or hear it in my dreams. Or maybe channeled through the children and grandchildren (and even great-grandchildren) he influenced.

Daddy was hospitalized on December 26. He died on January 22. Even as I was writing my last post in December, he was dying.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lonesome Shaka Zulu Dove?

This is a long overdue Father's Day post. I visited my family in South Carolina for Father's Day in June, and I've been thinking a lot about my dad ever since I got in my car to drive back to Durham. This post is longer than usual (if there even is a "usual" after such a long hiatus) but he's worth every word.

I could just subject you to my original stream of consciousness, but to spare the potential reader from total glassy-eyed exhaustion I've decided to break up what would have been an even more massive post into a miniseries. You can think of this as the Lonesome Dove or Shaka Zulu of amateur Internet blogosphere musings about Southern fathers.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

People Are Mean

Bear with me here. This is not a rant or a "mean people suck" diatribe.

But people are mean. Even when we're not mean spirited, we're mean.

We unknowingly say things that tear at the raw emotions of people who are struggling, and then walk away oblivious to what we've done.

And we knowingly say cutting things when we feel threatened - as if jabbing at a weak spot in someone bigger, stronger, better will make us bigger, stronger, better, too.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The ghost of diets past

My earliest memories of diets and calorie restrictions revolve around Ayds diet candies and Roman Meal bread.

Ayds (pronounced "aids") was an individually wrapped candy that was either an appetite suppressant or a placebo. It had a very strong presence in my childhood home in the early 70s. I clearly remember the chocolate and caramel flavors nibbled before meals by my mother and older sister, usually with a nice hot cup of coffee. I was a kid - somewhere in the 5 to 7 year old range - and I'd sneak in and chow down on those candies by the handful. They were tasty and, I'm sure, oh so chemical. Probably accounts for the tics and recurrent blackouts today. Ayds candies would surely have fallen out of market favor by now even if the PR disaster of having a product name pronounced the same as a dread disease hadn't driven the product off the shelves.