To all the Dads who are still with us and all those that live on in our memories, Happy Father’s Day!
Not a day goes by that I don't miss my Dad. He was a character. I used to call him “Worst Case Scenario Al”. In his mind, if anything could go wrong, it would – and – it was best to be ready for anything! I even gave him the book “The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook” as a joke. He actually read it with interest from cover to cover. I guess he figured if he ever found himself having to wrestle an alligator or was caught in quicksand, well, he would be prepared with all the right moves.
Dad was also our Google Maps long before even the Garmin was invented. I swear he had the whole map of the United States in his head. If you told him you were traveling to say - Idaho, he would tell you all the Interstates to take as well as when you probably would need to stop at a rest area. Oh and by the way, those were at “mile marker ***” on “Interstate such-and-such”. He also knew every bump in the road within a 25 mile radius from his house and would go to great lengths to avoid them. I recall taking him to a doctor appointment after he was no longer well enough to drive. As we approached the railroad crossing in Lower Rotterdam Junction, he said (from the backseat, of course), “Make sure you go over the tracks on the right hand side. The tracks aren’t as rough over there.” And, yes, he was correct. I still can’t go over those tracks without thinking about him with a smile. We would have endless conversations (and sometimes arguments) about driving. He was the poster child of what you should not do if you were a defensive driver. There were a couple of occasions after he was gone that I thought he was still sitting on my shoulder as I drove. One time I was going into Amsterdam with my Mom in the car. We were delivering Dad’s death certificate to someone. As we approached a light, another driver did something obnoxious and I said, “Boy, if Dad was here, the air would be blue!” At that very moment something hit me – bang! in the head. I looked down and found that it was Dad’s death certificate. It had flown out of the visor, seemingly of its own accord, to scold me for my comment. Another time, years later, I was driving on a rough (and bumpy) patch of the Thruway. I heard a noise in the back of the car and mentioned it to my husband. We were thinking it must be something loose in the car that needed to be checked out. After we got home and opened the hatch, I realized what it was. I had been transporting my Dad’s ashes and yes, once again, he had been "complaining" about the bumps in the road.
I am quite fortunate to still have my father-in-law who is such a dear man. This past year we celebrated his 92nd birthday with a dinner attended by close family. When I say “close family”, I mean his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I think there were almost 70 of us in attendance. Looking out at all those people, I just had to say, “Dad – you are responsible for all this!” He had tears in his eyes when he said, “Yep, isn’t it great?” He also shared with me there were times when he and my mother-in-law were raising their family of 10 children that he wondered how they were going to manage. But, he realized, things always had a way of working out.
One of the memories I will always have of my Dad-in-law took place a number of years ago. It was tradition that many of the family would get together sometime before Christmas and decorate cookies. That particular year, I was sick with a bad cough so I didn’t go over with my husband. About an hour later, the phone rang and it was my father-in-law just checking in to see if I was OK. I was so touched by this and realized how lucky I was to have him in my life. Oh, and another thing – he has never criticized my driving (and even said that I was a better driver than his son!) He told me he always felt comfortable when I drove which is, in no small part, thanks to my own Dad. It was from him that I learned to be vigilant, be prepared and to avoid the bumps in the road whenever it is humanly possible.
Love you and miss you, Dad.