Today, February 25th, 2009, dad would have been 83 years old. So for just one blog I want to be sentimental, somewhat sappy and maybe just a little emotional.
We all know that dad didn't always keep his father of the year trophy shining at the front of his trophy case, but he was a good dad, grandpa and great grandpa in his own way, to alot of kids. I believe that if you would ask each of the twelve of us to describe our dad, we would each describe a different man. When Billy was young, Dad was young, and when I was, well, younger, dad was older. These are the memories I have of my dad.
My Dad was a brother, son, husband, co-worker, neighbor and friend. he was a beer drinker, a smoker, a singer and a guitar player. He loved classic country from Charlie Rich to Johnny Cash. He loved flannel shirts and his white socks. In the summer time it was sleeveless white T-shirts, proudly sporting his "mother" tatoo, bermude shorts to his knees, white socks and slip on shoes. He always had a tan, a comb-over and a cap. The jeans he wore were always wider than they were long, and mom would cut them off and "hem them at the knees" to make them fit.
He came home from work at 7:00am everyday, had 2 cups of coffee and cigarettes and was off to bed until 11:00. He then would sit at the end of the table with a little more coffee, a lot more cigarettes and do the daily puzzle with the paper folded just right. he would only drink from one particulary heavy, thick, old, coffee cup. He would get up at 9:30 pm every night, need a thermos of coffee, 2 sandwiches with sandwich spread, 4 cookies( fig newtons were his favorite) and 2 full packs of cigarettes to get him through the night. He never missed work; if he did you knew he was ill.
When I was really young I would be allowed to sit outside on the swing with him, or even on the front porch if I was quiet, while he recorded letters on cassettes to send to Bill.
Every Summer He would plant new grasss seed under the apple trees, tie it off with twine and pie plates, and build a platform for your feet under the swings. And every summer the grass would all be trampled down again and die. But he did it every year.
On Sunday mornings, he made fried eggs. He was responsible for turning on the mashed potatoes at 11:00 while we were at church. After Lunch, on special occasions, he would get out his guitar and play. I loved to hear him sing "Hey Joe" and "The green, green grass of home". If we were really lucky, Dad would take us Roller skating. Boy, could he ever skate! Front Skate, Backwards skate, the Flee Hop, the Hokie Pokie and Free Style. He would glide acros the rink like a star. Just ask mom; that's how they met. Once a year on Sunday night, when the Wizard of Oz was on, Dad would make homemade doughnuts for us.
He coined the phrase "3 swats and a boot", invented "the thing dad built" and never missed an opportunity to brag about how he had 2 belt driven dishwashers at home. He loved playing poker with the boys, a full boat, and to bet "from the hip". He has had the honor of walking many women down the aisle and only being married to one.
He was the happiest when all the kids, young and old, were around. Birthdays, Christmas, Easter or a "garage party". He was the best thing that ever happened to Eric Michael, and Eric Michael was the best thing that ever happened to him. The best thing that I ever did was to let him be a part of my children's lives. For quite a while, Katie, Michael and Grandpa were the 3 musketeers and he spoiled them rotten. When Megan came along, he became her "papa" and he walked on water in her eyes. Even when the pedestal she put him on became a wheel chair, her grandpa was all she ever needed.
This is the dad I remember, and for all these memories and many more, I feel lucky and blessed to have had such a special man in my life, and to be able to have shared him with my family.
Happy 83rd birthday, Willie ! You are loved and missed by all.