Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day Memories

By Kate

Both my parents have passed on, my mom less than three years ago from cancer, my dad much longer, over twenty years now, a victim of an unhealthy emotional and physical lifestyle. Sad to say, I don't have a lot of good memories of him. He was a type A personality with a temper that he never learned to control. An Irish cop who hated corruption and injustice, but would strike his children at the least provocation. A hard worker, taking on at least two side jobs each season to pay bills. A tyrant of a husband who didn't want his wife to work outside the home. A private man who refused to share his triumphs and sorrows with her, until she finally left him.

But he had another side, a funny, creative, charming side that I had only rare glimpses of. He wrote clever limericks and humorous toasts that he gave at retirement roasts for his fellow officers. He made his own board games, built an airplane from a kit, created his own photography studio and developed his own prints. If you've read my bio on my website, I mention an eighth grade assignment, where I was to either write a poem, or an essay from the viewpoint of an inanimate object. I sulked, stewed, and fought that assignment until I was down to the last hour. I absolutely hated poetry and I had no idea how to see life from any object's perspective. My dad, tired of hearing my complaints, said, "Be a spoon." He then went on to imagine life from a spoon's perspective. I almost fell off my chair laughing at him.

He died just as I was starting my adult life, so I never really got to know him as anything but a strict, often terrorizing, father, yet I find myself studying his face in the photo I have of my parents as newlyweds, wondering about that other side of him. He was a mere twenty-three years old then, his body lean and strong after having served in the army, his blue eyes bright, hopeful, and full of pride at the young, beautiful new wife at his side. I try not to fast-forward to the end when, at only fifty-seven, but looking seventy-seven, he suffered his last and final stroke, putting an end to years of unhappiness.

Today, I will remember the evening he became a spoon, sparking my imagination in a way he would never live to realize. I know he'd be proud of my success as a writer. Here's my tribute to him:

To my dad, a complex man,
Who said, "Do the best that you can.
If you can't write a tune,
Then, by God, be a spoon!
At least its more stirring than a fan."

I hope you'll remember someone by sharing a good memory with all of us Cozy Chicks.

Have a Happy Memorial Day!
Kate