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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad.

The old man would have been 66 today.

Don't worry, I'm not going into a depressing remembrance of those good old times we had together. Mostly because he would have told me to shut the (expletive) up and get over it.

Humor was the medicine he often prescribed (quite often unwittingly so) and I will share some of it with you.  As a business owner, Bob had to deal with all types of employees.  Quite often, when an employee would call out sick, Bob would reply 'Shove two aspirin up your ass and get in here!' His terse management style quickly won him the respect of his employees.

There was no filter mechanism that stopped what he was thinking from spewing out of his mouth. I recall when he attended an event I was participating in as a child I would cringe and say a quick prayer that he wouldn't embarrass me too much. He gave me a nickname when I was little.  Duck.  I don't recall its origins but I'm sure they were benign. (if you know otherwise, keep it to yourself, I enjoy believing it was a term of endearment)  Anyway, I used to wrestle and when I walked out onto the mat to face my opponent, I could hear Dad yelling 'come-on Duck or Ducky or Duck-a-duck'.  I can imagine the fear that instilled upon my opponent as we prepared to grapple.

When I was young, my father was a super-hero.  I remember he would stand right at the edge of the pool and dare us to push him in.  Nobody could, he was too strong. Shortly after that he got into the habit of wearing nothing but his skin into the pool and we all maintained our distance.  One day, he thought it would be a good idea to chase my mother into the house and up the stairs with the garden hose -apparently his attempts to throw her right into the pool had been foiled.  Mom broke her foot on the stairs and had to wear a cast for the rest of the summer.

Dad was cooking on the grill, which was positioned in front of a wooden railing in a breezeway between the house and garage.  He must have let the propane run too long before attempting to light it because when I looked over, the railing, spindles and supports were engulfed in flames. He put it out before any major structural damage occurred.

Speaking of fire,  in our area we get nests of tree-killing caterpillars.  The only way to save the trees is to cut out the nests, which attach to the branches like a spider web, and kill all the insects.  So Dad collected a nice pile of these nests on the driveway, doused them in gasoline and lit them on fire.  Things were progressing nicely when for some reason, Dad decided the fire wasn't burning quite fast enough and decided to dump more gasoline onto the already burning fire.  As a result, he caught his own leg on fire, which my brother extinguished by tackling him to the ground (a long un-satiated desire of his I'm sure) and roll him around.  A trip to the hospital followed.

I know for a fact he's congratulated at least half a dozen women for being pregnant when they weren't.  Dad had an irrigation system installed on part of his property.  Shortly after the installation crew left, Dad thought it would be a good idea to hop on his tractor and rototill up the dirt above the piping so he could plant the Kentucky blue grass he'd wanted as a yard for most of his adult life.  From across the property I could hear the rototiller blades come to a sudden stop -as if they'd been caught on a large rock.  This sound was quickly followed by even louder cursing and screaming. When I walked over to see what was happening (I never ran, for I had no desire to be the first on a disaster scene) I saw irrigation piping snaked through the rototiller blades.  Each end continued another fifteen feet or so before it had been severed.  The installation crew was back the next day.

During a summer vacation to the beach we all saw Return of the Jedi. I was a little down (as any kid would be) because my hero, Darth Vader, was dead and Dad decided to cheer me up by jumping out from the darkness and screaming.  Little did he know I was changing into my pajamas, which were around my knees at the time, so when I went to run, I fell into the door jamb -head first.  Blood was everywhere.  So, on day two of the family vacation I got a trip to the hospital, stitches and had to wear a bandage around my head like The Mummy for the rest of the week.

Good times!

Happy Birthday, Dad.


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