Just my take on

DECEMBER 12, 2011 11:13PM

Happy Sadiversary

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 One year ago today, my father died.  He was ninety years old.

A  post by Rachel Coyne reminded me of when my dad taught me to ride a bicycle without training wheels.  He had watched me teeter back and forth on those stabilizing tires, never really gliding free from them.  So for a while, Dad dutifully mowed the front lawn, but for some odd reason let the back yard grow.  Soon, to my chagrin, the grass was a foot high.  Not having a great deal of self confidence at the time, I was embarrassed at the sight.  One sunny Saturday, Dad called me out to the backyard, and there he stood with my bike, sans training wheels.  "Come on, let's ride.  Trust me," he said.  I got up on the bike, and that dear man ran through the thick grass beside me as it held me up; I rode around the yard pumping for all I was worth, and when he channeled me out into the front yard into the short grass I slid, glided, soared down the street laughing and hollering.  It was so simple.  I would give anything to have seen his face as I rode away.

I wanted to say some things about my dad today, but after I spent a while with pictures of him, mostly from his younger years, they seemed to want to speak for themselves.  Here, he's one.
One year old 

This is dad at 19 with his first car.
First car

Apparently he was quite a catch while studying to be a teacher in college.
Water for Elephants 
"Betty Bishel? seems attracted to hardware...especially a Hammer"  and "Barnum's comes to town--Harry Smith, Don Hammer, and John Vargo earned their passes by watering the elephants."  Can't wait to share that with my book group--we read "Water for Elephants" this summer.

As a youngster, he learned to fly, and left college to join the war effort in 1942.
Dad's plane

Probably taken around the same time, this photo I think reveals the gentleness inside a sometimes gruff exterior.
The Don inside 

He married my mom...
Down the aisle 

and he played with my sister while they waited for me to be born.
Dad and Anita in the Philippines 

He was quite the character...
The hell with it

even as he got older...

and older still.
Oh, Don, stop it! 
(My mother looks like Sweet Baby Jane or something.  She's never looked like this a day in her life.)

This afternoon I visited him.
I miss you so much

I changed out his flowers for a sparkly Christmasy thing--complete with my mom's passport photo when we returned from the Philippines after my birth.  (She's holding both my sister and me, though I think I've been laundered off---it went through the wash in his wallet too many times to count.)  I brought Krispy Kreme chocolate covered donuts.  He loved donuts.

My sister called while I was there.  She tearily told me that she and I will be together for a very long time.  All these crazy blackbirds were squawking in a tree, maybe 200 of them.  It was cold and damp, but I felt loved and alive.
My sis 
(By the way, my sister's way more beautiful than this photo reveals.)

I ate a couple donuts and talked to dad a while; then I left a donut for him and came home.
donut for dad 


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Oh I love that donut sitting there. I visit my dad sometimes. I think I am due for another visit. Your dad looks wonderful. I loved my Dad so much and I miss him.
I love that you acknowledge & embrace the "Good Daughter" handle ~ it's a tough one, with some of these old guys, but they loved us into this world, & we love them into theirs, wherever they are, they're not going to forget, not ever, how much we love them.
I love so much about this one, the donut, that you have a sister to love you back, the bike memory.
Hold on to them and thank you for sharing a bit of Dad with us.
Donuts and dads ... how your words here speak to me.
So many things you've said here about your dad ...
and about his daughter ... who visited and remembered ... him.
Thinking of you good one ... daughter ...
loved ... and alive ...
zanelle, I know, me too.
Kim, how beautiful--"we love them into theirs." Your words are a great comfort.
rita, thank you, I will.
anna1liese, your last line is what I try to remember each day.
Lovely tribute to what sounds like a very loving Dad - I love that memory of the grass growing tall so he could help you learn to ride sans training wheels - what a loving act.
Many dads from that era came back from WWII with gruff exteriors, and then danced through the tall grass with their children.
That was a great gift he gave you.
What a treat. What a dashing fellow was your father. And, I must say that your sister and mother are just beautiful. Then, at the risk of overflattery I must further speak my truth and say that you are beautiful-- what an intelligent and cool face. Great to see you and the family. The ability to give tribute to those we love is one of the best things about this blogging thing.
Thanks for this!
Ah, LammChops, I see your name and think of the sweet/crazy sock puppet and his friend Shari Lewis. Another nice childhood memory!
aka: yes, it was. And you give me an idea for a poem.
fernsy, as an older man he was a cross between john wayne and robert young in looks. As for me, I don't photograph well but maybe my dad was holding the camera--it's not bad. and you're right about the blogging thing--without it I doubt I would have photographed myself and some donuts at the cemetery!
My dad died 10 years ago and I still talk to him. He always seems to hear. Nice piece.
jlsathre--thank you for telling me. I find comfort in that.
This was so loving and meaningful. Your Dad was loved and appreciated by you, it shows!
Sheila, I saw your painting of the two children sleeping. It was my sister and me in the folded down back of my dad's light blue VW bug traveling at night to my grandparents' snowy home in Johnstown, PA. I'm smiling. Thank you.
Beautiful, touching tribute to your dad. I miss mine every day.
Your clever title really says it all. Happy Holidays to you and more.
Hugs to you, Unbreakable.

And Algys, I've been seeing your comments quite a bit lately--you truly do warm the heart! Enjoy this lovely season yourself!
Your dad seems like such a mensch, with a great sense of humor too. Loving tribute. Those are my favorite donuts too, but I prefer them with sprinkles.
And you are all so good looking!
Thanks for sharing these mementos and your feelings. Such an intimate yet generous gesture. I adore especially the baby pic of your Dad.
Happy sadiversary. It's been a long time, hasn't it. I was leafing through an old notebook, found your number and wandered back here. Sometimes the timing of things makes me wonder. Hope you're doing well. You have such a tender smile in that photo.
i too loved the donut picture. its been a year for loss hasn't it? for me too. thanks for this post - i loved all the old pictures.
Erica, sprinkles do make life just a bit more wonderful, don't they?
Dirndl, I was looking at vintage posters and magazine ads yesterday, and the ones for women's dresses kept reminding me of your avatar. Except yours is more free.
Rachel--I'm grateful that you shook out the bike memory for me.
And, ah, Linda. You've been on my mind so much lately. I still have your number in my phone. I'll probably use it before long. xo
btw thx for the link!
A lovely tribute to your Dad. It's tough to lose someone at this time of year when we're so conscious of the passing of another year and of all the memories triggered by old songs and holiday scents and sights. He knew you were there, and I'll bet he's still around to cheer you on as you lose lots of figurative training wheels!

Do you know the Chet Atkins song "I Just Can't Say Goodbye" ? Google it and get the tissues ready. Chet himself couldn't get through it without crying.