My father died many years ago. I miss him.
I miss his wry sense of humor, his complete acceptance of the curious traits of everyone he met. I never heard him use an unkind word about or to anyone; but for one exception, his voice was naturally calm at all times.
After his stroke in 1972, he had difficulty in coordinating the use of his hands. This new experience held many surprises for my father and for the rest of our family as he learned once again to do the things that had always been taken for granted.
He and Mother met during the depression of the Thirties. Though they prospered during these times they learned to respect the gifts of life; they saw how easily the possessions, which helped to make one’s days enjoyable, could be suddenly missing in the blink of an eye. (Mother eventually left life in just that way, with no warning).
Father called Mother, Oodles for fifty some years because in their earlier love letters to each other. Mother had established the habit of ending those letters with “Oodles of love”. She called Father, Lovey for similar reasons and so did I. Oodles was frightening at times but Lovey was always “Lovey”.
In their retirement years, mother enjoyed working in the garden and sharing food with their renters; Lovey rescued old bits of furniture, reworking joints, refinishing and restoring them in his shop behind the family garage.
Dixie Broom, the retired Entrepreneur and Retail Store Proprietor turned backyard craftsman in later years, would restore that dingy, broken rocking chair or that old dining room table covered with powdery chips of peeling paint to its former self; if not that exactly, at least to a condition of usefulness. That piece of furniture would then go to someone in need, perhaps an old retired woman living only on a meager pension, or to a family of ten whose daily fare was usually biscuits and gravy.
Losing some of the manual dexterity which had helped to ease the lives of others, slowed but did not stop my Father from doing this work. Losing Oodles temporarily impeded Lovey’s focus but his retirement activity helped him to recover. I and my family visited Father often after Mother died. My wife and oldest daughter Dixie (named after her grandfather and very much like him) would fix the meals, daughter Mary would clean the house and son Bill and I would take turns working the yard and garden and helping Lovey restore furniture.
On this particular spring day it was my turn to help with the latest such task, in this case to hold the table steady while Father prepared to drive a brad into a shaky joint that had already been properly repaired several time and was now to be victimized with a blow from a hammer, never to be repaired again.
Lovey lined up that nail and raised the one pound weapon with his shaky right hand. As the blunt instrument missed its mark and struck instead my father’s thumb, I suddenly heard this blistering comment which gave new meaning to those comic strip tirades of Beetle Bailey; !@#$%^&* he shouted in language that no one had ever heard leave the lips of Horace Dixie Broom. Family members and next-door neighbors flew to the rescue and when finally, we noticed a glimmer of smile escaping those normally stoic lips and a familiar crinkle near the corner of his right eye, a tiny revelation of mirth from a face that rarely betrayed strong feelings of any kind, we all began to laugh.
It is people like my friends Tim and Morris and Tracy and Bill and Scott and Steve and Marie and John and Betty and Frank and Frank and Terri and Sandy and my children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, my silent (but not-so-silent, great-grandson, my beautiful, autistic Noah) and so many others who have little to say but so much to share, that help me keep my father, my Lovey by my side at all times. These are the people who add form to formlessness, the evidence of things unseen.