Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Nickel's Worth of Hundred Dollar Bills


In honor of my Dad on this first Father's Day without him, I have decided to share some of my fondest memories of him with you lucky, lucky people.

A VARIED SELECTION OF MY FAVORITE MEMORIES OVER THE YEARS OF MY SUPER AWESOME DAD (AT LEAST, THE MEMORIES I WAS ABLE TO RECALL AT 2AM THIS MORNING WHEN I WAS COMPILING THE MENTAL LIST FOR THIS BLOG WHILE STRUNG OUT ON ICED TEA AND VANILLA FROSTING AND CHECKING TO MAKE SURE THE DOORS WERE LOCKED FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME BECAUSE, GOD KNOWS, THE ONE NIGHT I FORGET WILL BE THE NIGHT THAT WE ARE ALL BLUDGEONED TO DEATH IN OUR SLEEP).

1. Growing up, my family had an above ground pool that my brother and I pretty much lived in during the summers. One year, when I was about twelve, we noticed that there was a weed (no, not WEED, but A weed) that had poked through the bottom liner and was growing up into the pool. Alarmed, we notified Dad, who very calmly surveyed the situation and headed towards his workshop. When he returned, he was in his bathing suit, wearing a very ghetto belt he had fashioned out of rope and metal pipes, and carrying a cattle syringe of weed killer and the liner patch kit. He proceeded to sink himself to the bottom of the pool, weighted down by his "belt," pull up the rogue weed, inject the hole with weed killer, and then patch it. All while we watched and laughed at him. The weed never grew back again.

2. One year on one of my brother's birthday in his late teens, Mom called Dad at work and asked him to stop by the grocery store on the way home and pick up a birthday cake. Dad, wanting to make things a little more special than a "generic cake birthday" called the bakery down the street, which was run by a bunch of REALLY old ladies and asked them if they could make a really cool cake for his son's (18th? 19th?) birthday. When they asked what kind of cake, Dad gave them free reign, telling them that Zach was really into video games. Not knowing much about video games, the ladies instead made an executive choice based upon what boys in Tennessee like: WRESTLING (my brother couldn't care less about wrestling, being your not-so-average TN teenager). When Dad picked up the cake, the women had used a Superman shaped pan to create a very bad bust of the wrestler THE ROCK, complete with brown frosting nipples. Written on the box beside the cake (in red frosting) were the words "THE ROCK SAYS HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ZACH!" It was AWESOME.

3. When I was a little girl, my Dad was big into hunting. He looked forward all year long to the fall when he could get up at 3am, dress in head-to-toe camo, and go sit in the woods and freeze his ass off for a few hours, often seeing nary a deer. And even if he DID see a deer, my Dad usually wouldn't take a shot at it, being a peaceful kind guy who loved nature. Knowing how much Dad loved to hunt, I used this knowledge one year when I was six or seven to pick out the BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT OF ALL TIME: an airbrushed baseball cap--you know, one of those trucker caps with the mesh in the back (brown). I had a buck, leaping through the forest, airbrushed in lots of vibrant earth tones on the front, along with his name, "Steve." This beautiful piece of fashion history cost me $20 (over a month's worth of allowance) and horrified my Mom to no end. I thought it was beautiful. Much to Mom's dismay, so did Dad (whose fashion sense was always either way behind or way ahead of the times, depending on how you looked at it) and he wore it EVERYWHERE for months. Until Mom hid it from him.

4. My Dad was the kind of guy who loved his truck, as good Southern men are prone to do. He kept it clean and waxed, and tricked out with multiple tools and weapons, always ready for any situation, from car trouble to hostile takeover. He also had a particular affinity for covering his trucks in many, many lights (of the spotlight variety) that were attached to a multitude of switches inside so that he could flip them on with a moment's notice and make things bright as noon in July. While these lights mostly existed so that he could work on things in the dark if he needed, he also used them occasionally to render people temporarily blind, as he chose to do one dark summer night when I was seventeen. At the time I was casually dating a few different guys, two of whom that had run into one another down the street from my house and chosen to throw down, most likely less in regards to me and more as a result of too much testosterone and beer. Dad heard the commotion, climbed in his truck, hauled ass down the road with no lights until he got right up on them, then flipped on all twenty or so spotlights. By the time the boys recovered their vision, staggering around and wondering what the hell was happening, Dad was standing in front of the truck holding his shotgun. Everyone settled down pretty quickly after that.

5. When I married my first husband, in honor of tradition, I forced my Dad to walk me down the aisle (I let him out of it the second time around). I tripped on my dress twice, and nearly fell down both times, but holding onto Dad's arm kept me upright. He was always there to keep me upright. When we got to the altar and Dad gave me away, he leaned close to me when he kissed my cheek and said, "I love you, Princess," soft enough that only I could hear. It was one of the hardest times I've ever had to let go of him, second only to the night he died in my arms.

To be continued.

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