Friday, July 31, 2009

Reminders of Dad

When a loved one passes away
there are always special things that
you remember about them.

Their voices, their smiles,
their laughter, and their touch.

But with my dad,
I mostly remember
the things he surrounded
himself with.

Like Archie Bunker,
he had his very own chair.
Everyone knew not to
sit there-
and if by chance we brought home
a new friend or a date-
we always warned them beforehand
not to sit in the recliner.

Dad's chair had the best view of the T.V..
And a giant ashtray that rarely
caught all the dusty powder
from his Camel cigarettes.

The chair conformed to his shape only-
molded like soft clay
from years of use-
from long, hot afternoons
watching baseball
and cold winter evenings
curled up with a funny sitcom.

He had slippers by the door,
a radio by his bed,
and a certain coffee cup
that he used every day.

And my dad
had a "Hamshack".

His Hamshack started out as
a place for Dad and my brother John
to tinker with their ham radio hobby.
The plywood walls were lined
with QSL cards from all
over the country.
And somehow I remember
the call numbers of

I remember the little tappers
that sent out signals
across the airwaves-
the rusty buckets full of
glass tubes and capacitors
and copper wrapped guts
of some dissected shortwave.

I remember my dad's books.
Shelves of that hamshack were
lined with dogeared Westerns
and yellowed sci-fi paperbacks.
And his big, brown-framed eye glasses
always looked a bit smudgy
as he wiggled his toes
while he read.

I do remember how Dad
steered my life
without ever preaching,
or lecturing.
He did it all with facial expressions.

All it took
was one look at Dad
to know you were in trouble,
that you were wrong,
or that
"you better not ask".

But we always knew
that he loved us.

Happy Birthday, Dad.
We miss you.