Friday, June 11, 2010

Dad Didn't Make 89, But He Does Live On

Dad would have been 89 years old today. Since he died in 1985, I can't even picture Dad at 89. (And it does not seem like 25 years since he died!) I do have quite a collection of pictures in my brain, though.

My claim to family fame is teaching Dad how to eat a hamburger. Dad sold life and health insurance, and sometimes he had appointments during the dinner hour. He didn't like missing dinner with the family, and he hated to eat alone. On those occasions when he missed dinner, he would hijack one of his kids to a restaurant. I must have been about 14 or 15 years old the night Dad decided to take me to the Chocolate Pit. The Chocolate Pit was a friendly coffee shop, or as Dad would have said, "hamburger joint." Dad and I were talking, eating, and enjoying one another's company. He stopped almost mid-sentence and got the funniest look on his face--one of the permanent pictures in my brain. He looked at his hamburger, and then he looked at mine. He said, "How in the heck do you do that?! How do you eat a hamburger without it falling apart?! Mine always falls apart!" I then explained to him that once I pick up my hamburger and begin to eat, I never set it down. If you set it down, it falls apart. I hold my hamburger with my left hand, leaving my right dominant hand to pick up french fries, dip in ketchup (catsup, if you prefer), drink my soda, and use my napkin. Dad was so delighted! (Another permanent brain picture.) He could not believe that I could have figured out this perfect system for neatness. (Those who didn't know my very excentric father, he was a total neat freak!)

I'm sure all of Dad's kids have one particular image: Dad dancing and doing the "goose step" in the grocery store aisle. This was a favorite Dick Janes pastime. There were no video cameras in those days, but they had those big mirrors at the ends of the aisles to discourage shoplifting. Dad delighted in seeing if he could "goose step" without getting caught in the mirrors.

My favorite photograph of Dad is one that I took without his knowledge. My first job after high school was working at Breuner's Furniture Store in Reno. The employee discount allowed me to buy my first stereo--and it was a nice one! I bought excellent quality headphones, with a cord long enough to stretch from the living room down the hall to my bedroom. That way during the day the family could enjoy the stereo, and at night, I could use the headphones to go to sleep to music. I bought my first Johnny Mathis album, and Dad loved it! He had never heard of Johnny Mathis, so he teased me about Johnny Mathis being Nat King Cole's imitator. Dad loved to get up on Sunday morning and cook breakfast. I woke up early one Sunday morning and discovered Dad in the kitchen peeling potatoes for hashbrowns with the headphones on listening to Johnny Mathis. (Picture above.)

Dad's laugh is still with me too. I can still hear him all these years later--and I can see his face getting red and tears running down his face as he laughed. Somewhere at home I have an audio tape that includes his laugh. I haven't listened to it in a long time. It's actually very hard to listen to it.

There is a piece of Dad in all of his children. And at least one of his grandchildren, Ezra, has his mannerisms, which is a little creepy since Dad died when Ezra was 2 years old. Ezra doesn't even remember Dad.

Maybe the reason it doesn't seem like Dad has been gone for 25 years is because he lives on in the stories. Dad was such an excentric character that he has provided literally hundreds of stories for the family history. It's difficult for me to teach a lesson or give a talk in church without using a Dick Janes story. There are just so many ways to use him as an example to teach others! Maybe he really didn't need to live past 64 after all; he had already provided the example and the lessons for his children and grandchildren. We just need to keep telling the stories.

Question to my siblings: Who has the original picture below? The only copy I have was printed on cheap photocopy paper years ago, and it's one of my favorites. If you have it, can you scan it and send it to me?

July 24, 2010 - Update: This missing picture has been found!

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Clock Keeps Ticking

Picture from here:

I'm getting old. I know that's not news to those who know me, but I seem to be reminded lately on a daily basis. It's not a bad thing; in fact, I'm rather enjoying the process. There are, however, some stark realizations along the way.

Last night we received last minute free tickets to a minor league baseball game from someone who couldn't use the tickets. My husband, two daughters, one grandson, and I went for a lovely evening in the ballpark. My grandson is about to celebrate his first birthday. He was the best little guy last night! He had a great time watching people, listening to the music, enjoying the fresh air, and bouncing from one person to the next. Long after his normal bedtime he was still grinning and laughing. I had a really good time enjoying both the game and little Joey last night. By the time I got home, though, I was wiped out! I'm barely functioning today after a night's sleep! What happened to the days when I bounced babies at ballparks and then went home to laundry and cleaning and got up the next morning to do it all over again? As we left the ballpark, I watched my pregnant daughter carry Joey on her hip, with a diaper bag strapped to her back. I knew I should offer to carry Joey, but I just didn't think I'd make it to the parking lot without hyperventillating! So I waited until we were halfway to the car and said, "Do you want Dad to carry Joey?" Knowing Dad is 12 years my senior, she declined. I've experienced this same feeling over the last few months with the rest of my grandchildren. I love them to pieces and cherish each moment I'm with them--but, wow, what a revelation as to my lack of stamina.

A couple of months ago I painted my family room and made new drapes. The room required more than one coat, and I actually accepted help with some of the work. It doesn't seem that long ago that I painted that room all by myself in one day with energy to spare.

There are definite advantages in growing older, though. When I speak, people seem to listen more--as if I might really have something worthwhile to say. The irony is that because I'm getting older, I'm also getting more cynical. If people had listened to me 20-30 years ago, they probably would have found solutions to world problems; now I'm part of the problem.

If I make a mistake, people forgive me because they presume "I'm losing it." What's not to forgive in my "matronly" face? Doesn't everybody love a fuzzy-faced, wrinkled granny?

I've decided to embrace my age. I can't change it, so I may as well go along for the ride. Hiding under the covers is not an option, although wrapping myself in bubble wrap when around my grandkids might be. Just kidding! As the clock keeps ticking, I hope I remember to live each day to the fullest. I don't want to waste a moment wishing I were young again. Each new day should be embraced and appreciated. As the old Timex watch slogan goes, "It takes a licking and keeps on ticking."

My Grandfather's Clock

By Henry Clay Work

My Grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor.
It was taller by half than the old man himself,
Yet it weighed not a pennyweight more.

It was bought on the morn on the day that he was born,
It was always his treasure and pride.
But it stopped, short, never to go again,
When the old man died.

Ninety years without slumbering,
Tick tock tick tock.
His life’s seconds numbering,
Tick tock tick tock.
But it stopped short,
Never to run again,
When the old man died

In watching its pendulum swing to and fro,
Many hours he had spent when a boy.
And through childhood and manhood, the clock seemed to know,
And to share both his grief and his joy.

For it struck 24 when he entered at the door,
With a blooming and beautiful bride.
But it stopped, short, never to go again,
When the old man died.

My grandfather said that of those he could hire,
Tick tock tick tock,
Not a servant so faithful he’d found.
Tick tock tick tock.
For it kept perfect time,
And it had one desire,
At the close of each day to be wound.

As it kept to its place, not a frown upon its face,
As its hands never hung by its side.
But it stopped, short, never to go again,
When the old man died.

It rang an alarm in the still of the night,
An alarm that for years had been dumb.
And we knew that his spirit was pluming for flight,
That his hour of departure had come.

Still the clock kept the time,
Tick tock tick tock,
With a soft and muffled chime,
Tick tock tick tock,
As we silently stood by his side.
But it stopped, short, never to go again,
When the old man died.