Friday, February 10, 2006

The Commodore

It's hard to believe it, but it's been 10 years
today since Daddy died.

He was born in Kentucky, to a father from Germany and a mother from Scotland, and grew up and moved to Texas. That's where he met my mother, when we traveled from Missouri to vacation with relatives who lived there. About three weeks later, he came to Missouri, and they married. What are the odds?

It took quite a leap of faith for a man to pack up his new bride, her two adolescent daughters and all her earthly possessions and move us to Texas to begin a new life.

He had a young daughter of his own who moved in with us soon after we arrived, and a year later the family grew again with the arrival of our baby brother. Daddy immediately mowed my brother's name into the thick grass of the backyard and tended it regularly so it remained visible all summer.

Daddy loved fishing, but more than that, he loved his boat club and went there almost every day after he retired to share stories and a beer or two with his friends. He traveled wherever he needed to go to cheer on the local football team, grew wonderful tomatoes in his backyard, and packed an astonishing amount of junk into his garage, just in case.

He was cantankerous and enjoyed being that way. He especially got a kick out of pushing Mother's buttons with a well-timed word or two, and you could almost see the wheels turning in his head as he planned exactly what to say to set her off.

Mother didn't like it when Daddy and I talked politics, but I thought it was fun and I think he did, too. Our first debate was about the Kennedy/Nixon campaign. I wasn't old enough to vote in that one, but I'd be willing to bet we canceled each other's vote in every presidential election after that.

One of my favorite memories of Daddy toward the end of his life was when he pulled me off to the side one day and, with a sheepish grin and a chuckle, pulled an index card out of his shirt pocket. He was writing down the names of his granddaughters' boyfriends and husbands as a ready reference while we visited.

The eyerolls Daddy provoked in us through the years must have numbered in the thousands. I hope he was able to look beyond that and see how much we loved him and appreciated his steady, reliable presence in our lives.

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