Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"Oh My Papa"

March 5 was my dad's birthday.  He would have been 94 years old today, but he died much too soon, in 1978 at the age of 59....34 years ago!  I've written about my dad several different times, so I won't go into much detail here...well, I'll try!.  

The reality is, like everyone else, my dad had his strengths and he had his weaknesses, but overall he was a good man who loved his family very much.  You can see it on his face in every photo of him with my mom, Little Sis, or me.  

He wasn't the kind of dad who played with me when I was a child.  He never taught me to sink a basket or hit a ball, though he did teach me to ride a bike!  He never saw me as one of the cheerleaders at a football or basketball game.  (Come to think of it, I don't think my mom did either, but that makes sense, she had zero interest in sports!)  We never went to a Daddy-Daughter dance or dinner.  In fact, I cannot recall a time when he and I even went to dinner by ourselves, just the two of us.  

He pretty much always worked the evening shift (some variation of 3 pm to 11:30 pm,) so he never came to see any school choir concert or school program that I was in until I was 17 years old (he wasn't working the pm shift by then.)    

Again because of his work hours my mom was the one who did the "raising" of both Little Sis and me.  There was never any of the "wait 'til your father comes home!"    Any discipline needed was meted out mostly by Mom.  

I do however, remember one particular occasion when I got yelled at by my dad. There was a day when I was around 7 years old that I did something (who remembers what?) that angered him .  He gave me a lecture about whatever it was, and because I was pretty well devastated that my Daddy was mad at me,  I cried through the whole thing.   He closed his lecture with a final thrust, "You'd better straighten up and fly right!)   I pretty much stopped crying right away.   Uhhmm....huh??.....I was 7 years old, I'd never even seen an airplane up close.  What did I know about flying?   How could I fly right when I couldn't fly at all??. Was I supposed to be able to fly???    I didn't know what he was talking about!  Dad left the room and I sat there for a long while trying to figure out he meant.  I couldn't.  Much later (maybe even the next day) I screwed up my courage to ask what he meant...but I was no dummy, I went and asked MOM!   I wasn't going to tempt fate and make my Dad mad at me all over again!   lol!  I was greatly relieved to find out that I wasn't going to be banished to some unknown airfield until I could fly straight!  

Most of the time I didn't see much of Dad.  Most days he got up after I left for school and got home after I was already in bed asleep.  Still, I never felt he was completely out of the loop.  I knew he and my mom talked each night when he got home and I knew she pretty much kept him up to date on stuff.  

This was brought home to me when I was a Junior.  One of the classes I took that year was Typing.  Everybody said it would be useful in college,   Our teacher was Mrs. Elspeth Smith.  I'd never heard that name before and it sounded kind of witch-like to most of us....and her personality seemed to fit that category as well.  She was a hard taskmaster and she had a sharp tongue.  I was terrified of her!   We were using big old, clunky manual typewriters that were left over from  the War Between the States!   (Ok, ok.....that's an exaggeration!  But there were OLD!)  Anyway I really struggled in that class.  It was demoralizing, I was close to flunking the class! TYPING!!  Nobody flunks TYPING, right!!!??  I hated it.  The essence of learning to type is to practice.  All I got was the 45 minute class on school days.  I talked with my mom about how miserable I was several times.  I just wasn't getting any better!  She had no useful advice but to try harder!  It was hopeless.  

About 2/3 of the way through the semester, I came home from school one afternoon and in my room on my desk was a brand new manual typewriter!  I squealed and ran out to mom, "You bought me a typewriter!!??" Wow!"  (I couldn't believe it, I knew we didn't have that kind of money, typewriters were expensive!)  Mom started shaking her head no.  I was confused.  "What do you mean, NO?"  It's right there!  
She finally got me to shush and listen and she said, "Your Dad was worried that you aren't doing so well with your typing, so he went and rented a typewriter for you to use for the rest of the semester, so you  can practice more."   

I was about 13 in this photo....
note  where my dad is looking....
So because my dad was worried about me, he went and spent money that probably should have gone to something else, to rent me a typewriter.  It was just the thing I needed and my Daddy got it for me.  I passed the class (just barely, but I passed.)  Thank you, Daddy! 

So today as I think about my dad, I recognize his strengths and his faults, but I always knew that my daddy loved me.   And I loved him.

I miss him still....


  1. Your father sounds like a nice guy....of course, he was a Pisces. It's hard to lose parents at any age but he was way too young. A wonderful remembrance.

  2. What a wonderful story Melodee! I'm glad that "these days", fathers take a more active role in the lives of their children, but when we were growing up, I don't think many father's did that. I love that glowing look in your father's face in that picture. Yes, he loved his family. I love stories about children misunderstanding. Adults don't think about how confusing some of the things we say can be for a child. laurie

  3. Loved the story of your dad. My dad was much like your dad with the work hours and believe it or not my dad also bought me a typewriter at about the same age as you were when you got yours and for the same reason. LOL You were a cute 13 year old and your dad has such a look admiration and love for you in this photo.

  4. I love this story and can't believe it's the first time I've heard it! So glad you're doing the blog Mom - I'm learning so much of our family history! Thanks for sharing it with everyone. They get to see how lucky I am!

  5. Cool comment from you daughter! (Or at least it sounds like her. ie. called you Mom). I lost my dad when he was only 53. I miss him still. What a nice tribute to your Papa. BTW, I loved that song!!

  6. I never heard that story before Big Sis! Daddy really would surprise us sometimes, wouldn't he? I was just thinking of him today -Good Friday- and remembering how outraged he was my freshman year of college that we had class on Good Friday! LOL. Daddy, the agnostic, thought it should be a school holiday even for non-Catholic schools. LOL. Your story though brings home just how different our childhoods were. Mom worked when I was growing up so it was Daddy that was there every day when I got home from school during those 11pm-7:30am shifts of his. Little Sis


Thanks so much for leaving a comment. It's really nice knowing what you think!! Besides, comments keep me from feeling like I'm here all by myself!! :)

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