“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”

In my front garden are a couple of ground cover plants. They have been there for years. My father planted them for me. One weekend he and my mother came down to visit. My dad brought his lawn mower, a hand mower, garden tools and those few plants. While my mother and I shopped, my dad mowed the lawn in the front and the back. Both yards were fields no longer. He weeded the garden. I could see the flowers. The garden was lovely. I get to remember that weekend every time I go out the front gate and see my father’s plants. They touch my heart.

This is my annual Father’s Day post. It brings back a rush of memories every time I read it. It makes me smile and long for my father. He was one of a kind in the best of all possible ways.

I have so many memories of growing up, of family trips and my dad trying to whack at us from the front seat and never succeeding, of playing whist in the kitchen, with the teams being my mom and me against my dad and brother, of Sunday rides, of going to the drive-in and the beach and of being loved by my dad. Memories of my dad are with me always, but today my memories are all of my dad, and my heart is filled to the brim with missing him. When I close my eyes, I see him so clearly.

On a warm day so he’d be sitting on the front steps with his coffee cup beside him while reading the paper. He’d have on a white t-shirt and maybe his blue shorts. He’d wave at the neighbors going by in their cars. They all knew him and would honk back. He loved being retired, and we were glad he had a few years of just enjoying life.

He was the funniest guy, mostly on purpose but lots of times by happenstance. We used to have Dad stories, all those times when we roared and he had no idea why. He used to laugh along with us and ask, “What did I say? What did I say?” We were usually laughing too hard to tell him. He was a good sport about it.

I know you’ve heard this before, but it is one of my favorite Dad stories. He, my mom and I were in Portugal. I was driving. My dad was beside me. On the road, we had passed many piggyback tandem trucks, all hauling several truck loads behind them. On the back of the last truck was always the sign Vehiculo Longo. We came out of a gas station behind one of those. My father nonchalantly noted, “That guy Longo owns a lot of trucks.” I was laughing so hard I could barely drive and my mother, in the back seat, was doubled over in laughter.

My father wasn’t at all handy around the house. Putting up outside lights once, he gave himself a shock which knocked him off his step-ladder. He once sawed himself out of a tree by sitting on the wrong end of the limb. The bookcase he built in the cellar had two shelves, one on the floor and the other too high to use. He said it was lack of wood. When painting the house once, the ladder started to slide, but he stayed on his rung anyway with brush in hand. The stroke of the paint on the house followed the path of his fall. Lots of times he set his shoe or pant leg on fire when he was barbecuing. He was a big believer in lots of charcoal lighter fluid.

My father loved games, mostly cards. We played cribbage all the time, and I loved making fun of his loses, especially if I skunked him. When he won, it was superb playing. When I won, it was luck. I remember so many nights of all of us, including aunts and uncles, crowding around the kitchen table playing cards, especially hi-lo jack. He loved to win and we loved lording it over him when he lost.

My father was a most successful businessman. He was hired to turn a company around and he did. He was personable and funny and remembered everyone’s names. Nobody turned him down.

My father always went out Sunday mornings for the paper and for donuts. He never remembered what kind of donut I like. His favorite was plain. He’d make Sunday breakfast when I visited: bacon, eggs and toast. I can still see him standing over the stove with a dish towel over his shoulders. He always put me in charge of the toast.

If I ever needed anything, I knew I could call my father. He was generous. When we went out to eat, he always wanted to pay and was indignant when we one upped him by setting it up ahead of time that one of us paid. One Christmas he gave us all $500.00, not as a gift but to buy gifts.

My father left us when he was far too young. It was sudden. He had a heart attack. I had spoken with him just the day before. It was pouring that day, and I told him how my dog Shauna was soaked. He loved that dog and told me to wipe his baby off. I still remember that whole conversation. I still miss my father every day.

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10 Comments on ““I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.””

  1. Bob Says:

    Kat,
    You were very lucky to have had such a loving and attentive father. My father always seemed to put me second or third in his life. He always put his job first, my mother second and me third. When my mother passed away when I was 13 he shipped my sister and I off to NYC to live with my aunt and uncle. He would make an appearance a couple of times a year. He told me that he couldn’t find a job which would pay as much as traveling Monday’s through Friday’s and didn’t want to leave us with a housekeeper. I really think he was more interested in screwing as many woman as he could as this was the beginning of the sexual revolution. Having two kids around would have crimped his style.

    After I graduated high school I moved back to North Texas to go to school. Every Thanksgiving he and his friends would fly to Accapulco to party on the beach and I was left to fend for myself. The only time I ever recall him telling me he was proud of me was when my kids were born.

    I have tried to overcome his legacy with my kids but it’s been difficult. It’s difficult to separate nature from nurture or lack thereof. My daughter who has Down Syndrome is excited about Father’s or Mother’s Day. My son is excited about nothing except his opinions and interests. A typical 20 year old kid. He’s more cynical than I am. 🙂

    Another sunny and hot day with a slight chance of thunderstorms later tonight.

    • P Says:

      Bob,
      My father had his faults, and he and I clashed. Part of the reason was we were very much alike. We never discussed politics as we were poles apart. When I got older, we just stopped the discussions entirely. We weren’t going to change each other.

      His parents were cold, but he never was. We knew he loved us. I always got a kiss when I was leaving. All of us miss him so very much.

      • flyboybob Says:

        Everyone has faults if they are human. Some have more than others. My father and I agreed on politics but he was always putting his needs and desires above spending the time and energy raising his children was a different story. As a child of the depression, he equated writing a check with giving affection. I think he changed al little bit in the last couple of years of his life with his grand children.

      • katry Says:

        Bob,
        I think it was my mother who helped him not be his parents.

        My dad put us ahead and did everything he could for us. My parents and I traveled together a lot, and we always laughed and had a great time. I used to love their visits.

        I miss both of them with all my heart.

      • flyboybob Says:

        I think part of the job of being a wife is to help her husband not parent the way he was parented. 🙂

      • katry Says:

        Bob,
        That depends on the husband. My brother-in-law has always been a wonderful husband and father. He is the perfect role model for his boys.

  2. olof1 Says:

    I always enjoy reading these stories about Your father 🙂

    I think we have father’s day here in November but I’m not sure, I’ve never celebrated it.

    Have a great day!

    Christer.

  3. Hedley Says:

    Kat, I was charged with finding some photos of my Poppa, Geoffrey, circa 1930 and much to my surprise I found them easily. Basel is working hard on the story from Ulm and needed a fill

    It reminded me that male figures of influence on Fathers Day were not limited to a Dad. My Grandfather and Poppa are remembered fondly today

    I love it when you share the stories of your folks and you tribute to your Pa is very moving.

    Salutations to all KTCC Fathers, enjoy a day of reflection and celebration

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      Photos of my family are scattered. I do have several of my grandparents when they were younger. Many are of my grandmother and her sisters. There are none of my grandfather’s family. We found out much later he was estranged from his family.

      My parents were the center of the family when it came to parties. I remember my mother even had a D-Day party. Friday night was card night. Hi-Lo Jack was the big game. My uncle always walked to my parents’ house as he figured he couldn’t drive after a night playing cards and having a few drinks.

      I hope you had the best Father’s Day ever!


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