(For those of you who have been my blog readers since the very beginning, you may have a sense of deja-vu. Much of this post is an edited version of one I posted back in 2007)
I'm remembering my dad this Father's Day - he passed away when I was in my twenties, but has always been one of the most influential, and most loved, people in my life. He was a quiet, steady man who had, in many ways, been a kindred spirit.
My dad and I shared a love of music and singing and mystery books and fishing. I was his sidekick who held the tools and wielded the brush when anything needed fixing or building or painting around the house. He allowed me to be the tomboy that I was – teaching me to use the tools, giving me the task of mowing the grass, helping me to bait a hook or cast a fly.
My dad would not let me have a cat or dog when I was growing up, despite my pleas. Finally dad broke down and got me a turtle – one of those little tiny ones that were so popular in the early sixties. Of course, in a very short time, I had killed it with too much handling and too much food.
When Sammy (the turtle) died, I saw a glimmer of the compassion that I was to inherit. It was a dark, miserable night with torrential rain. I was frantic at the thought that Sammy’s body might be disposed of in the garbage and devastated that this little turtle had lasted less than a couple of months in my care.
My dad gently took the turtle from me, wrapped it in soft cotton batting, placed it in a little box……and with me watching from the doorway he pulled on gumboots and slicker and in the pouring rain he dug a little hole in the back corner of the yard and buried my little Sammy. And then he lashed together two twigs in the form of a cross, and placed it at Sammy’s grave.
There are some memories that remain with us for life - for me, those are memories of sitting on the bank of a river fishing with my dad, building a wall unit and painting my bedroom with my dad, and learning about the life and death of a turtle - and the love of father for child - with my dad.
Thanks, dad. Love you forever.