Sunday, June 16, 2013

Thoughts on my dad

When I think of my dad, my first thought is how sorry I am he missed his great-grandchildren. He would have enjoyed them so much. My youngest daughter is too young to remember him, but he thought she was created especially for his delight. He would sit for hours watching her and chuckling while she gooed and cooed on her blanket. My next thought is of him is disreputable clothes, with awkward knee pads, working in his garden or, in clothes almost as disreputable but cleaner, leading us through the woods at the Indiana Dunes at night (I was terrified of course) and making us all freeze while a skink crossed our path. This man was a college president, always dignified, in a Brooks Brothers suit and a fedora, but he loved nature and being outdoors. And if a student wandered by while he was gardening, no problem—he greeted them cordially.

Dad was not what I would call a warm and fuzzy dad, though I know as his only biological child (a younger sister died at six months) I was the light of his life. If he ever played ball with my brother (his stepson), I don’t know about it. But I got so much from him—the confidence that I could do whatever I put my mind to, a work ethic that won’t quit, superior training in office procedure (I worked for him for a while and could even today be the best darn executive secretary you ever had), a sureness of faith, a sense of obligation to my community, and, yes, my liberal tendencies. Forty when I was born, Dad was an Anglophle (born in Canada) so we had formal dinners every night—roast beef or lamb and potatoes, never fried chicken that you picked up with your fingers. I have heard hints that in his youth he was quite the rake, but that was not the man I knew. He loved to read, and he and Mom read all of Will and Ariel Durant aloud to each other. His heroes were Winston Churchill, FDR, and Harry Truman.

He left us, rather suddenly, in 1977, before the digital age, and I have no pictures to post. But I am proud to be his daughter, and I wish he could see what my children and I have done with our lives (he’d be proud, especially of what fine people my children are), and he’d love all seven of his great-grandchildren. You were gone too soon, Dad, and I miss you, yoiur advice, and your wisdom. And, yes, your love.


Holly Gilliatt said...

A beautiful tribute to your dad. Sounds like a great man. My dad also left too soon (62 yrs) but he at least got to see all of my kids, although they were all under the age of 4. I like to think that both of our dads are watching, and they've seen our kids grow up. I hope I'm right. :)

Judy Alter said...

Thanks, Holly. I like to think mYp folks are watching and know too!

LD Masterson said...