I just got off the phone with my Dad. It does my heart good to talk to him now, he seems so happy in the life he's made for himself with his "second family" of his common-law wife and his teenage son. Even from a very young age I knew my parents didn't like each other very much and I always wondered why two people who had so little in common ever got together in the first place. I suppose there was a time when my mother was relatively normal, and they got together in their early 20s, but I honestly don't know how he stuck it out for 30-some-odd years of marriage before he finally left her. I know now that they both had affairs, even though all we ever heard about were the insinuations from my mother.
I realize looking back that a lot of my memories about my Dad start with a particular scent. He worked for 25 years in a large sawmill, so when he got home from work he had that earthy smell of wood and sawdust. He also taught gymnastics my whole childhood, coaching full time after he retired from the sawmill at quite an early age, since he started working there in his late teens. Although it doesn't sound good to anyone else, the way he smelled of sweat and gymnastic chalk was very comforting to me. I spent a good part of my early life in the gym and it was something we did together that helped to form the special bond we shared.
We were not the most demonstrative of families when it comes to showing affection. No kisses or hugs when sending the kids off to school or to bed, heaven forbid. Despite the moratorium on love in our household, I would always sit next to my Dad on the couch when we watched TV after dinner (my Mom sat in an armchair on the other side of the room), and he would hold my tiny hand in his large, calloused one. His hands were so rough from working with wood for so long that he could take things out of the oven without any protection.
Every kid thinks their Dad is Superman, but my Dad really COULD beat up your Dad. He was a champion bodybuilder and was a red-haired Adonis in his day. His biceps were so large that even as a teenager I couldn't put both my hands around them. He would pick me up like a barbell and raise me over his head over and over, or he would have my sister and I sit on his back while he did a hundred push-ups. Later when I started to take gymnastics seriously he was my coach for a while, and all the other kids were always so jealous when they found out that Coach Ron was my father.
I was and always will be so proud of him, for all his accomplishments despite a 9th grade education. For teaching me all about nature and to respect all living things. For being the man who could fix anything or build anything, and whose teeth spent every night next to the bathroom sink in a glass. I love you, Dad.
D's son called him today to wish him a happy father's day -- my heart is again filled.
This picture of my Dad and his mother was taken in 1950 when he was just 17.
This is one of my favorite pictures of him; he's where he loves to be, out in nature. It was taken in 1959 when he was 26 and the father of two year-old twin boys.
That's me in Daddy's arms, taken the winter of 1965 when I was a year and a half. Nice shirt, eh? My mother made outfits for my sister and I out of the remnants of that shirt a few years later. Oy.
Here's me and Dad at my wedding in July 2000. It always shocks me when I see how much he looks like what I remember my grandfather to look like now.
We just got back from the farm and Baby Horse Watch 2007 is officially over! Missy's sister Sara decided she just couldn't wait for her due date on the 21st and had her baby last night all by herself. Meet Que Sera Sera, aka Katie, 1 day old. You can't see it in either of these pictures, but she has the same star as her mama, just like Ruby and Roxie. Of course, more pictures to come.