Comb-Over. Father’s Day 2016

My dad was like a father to me.

He took me with him to fix my Godmother Ginny’s air conditioner at the Ceramic Shop. He showed me his humble quarters at the Burdick Hotel. I followed him around while he repaired fridges and jammed locks. I recall watching Dad play horse shoes by the tracks at the fire station. He wore blue pants most of the time.

I remember the sound of the tires on a gravel road as we delivered his Free Press route before sun up. That’s when I asked him what his biggest regret was. “I wish I hadn’t got so angry at your mother.” Me too Dad.

I was nine when the benign tumor stole one eye, half of his smile, fifty percent of his hearing.  An unsteady swagger followed. I had no clue how scared he was when he went to the Mayo Clinic. That was the end of his fireman days but thankfully not all his days.

He came back with his wry humor intact and a comb-over that was beyond justifiable. I imagined him using the paste brush from Sister Jean’s second grade room to adhere the peninsula across the bay of his baldness. Even on his deathbed he parted his hair to the side. His one hair. Parting was such sweet sorrow.

I don’t remember which of my nine siblings it was. The one who caught Dad at a supreme moment displaying all his quirks plus one. He was working in his yard on a blistering summer day. Bent over weeding or what not in his blue pants most likely. They came up behind him with their announcing hello. He turned while rising off balance, his comb-over dangling off the wrong side of his crown. His usual response was half shouted “Heh?” His “Heh?” accompanied a half smile with his permanent wink and two Kleenex hanging out of his nose. One for each nostril. We laugh every time one of us draws the scene up from our memories.

Yes, Dad was like a father to me. Not perfect.

A few years ago I had an epiphany, maybe a vision, could have been a dream. No matter. I was a kid playing Lego’s on the wool area rug in our living room. Dad was on the opposite end reading a newspaper and listing to classical music. The scene had a Sunday feel to it. Quiet. For no particular reason to my mind, Dad folded the paper and set it down. He got up and came across the room and got on the floor next to me and played Legos with me. He came over with his comb over. His lock of hair unlocked and flopped over and he didn’t even notice as we interlocked the Legos and our quiet hearts together.

11 thoughts on “Comb-Over. Father’s Day 2016

  1. Sweet Jerry. This may be my favorite passage from your many volumes.
    I was the one to witness the double-barreled Kleenex that hot summer day. I’ll never forget it.
    The Lego scene was Dads attempt at what we talk about all the time as parents: being intentional. I always want to chose Legos over Gazettes, for my kids.
    I love you Jerry.
    Thanks for putting your heart “on paper”.

  2. I am always a little stunned to hear my siblings talk about Dad. My perceptions(sp) of him are so different!

      • Your brother’s comment about the blog makes me realize more families have siblings who see their father in different ways. You father probably had ambiguities like mine leaving the siblings with a potpourri of impressions. Love the tribute you wrote.

  3. Reblogged this on Gerald the Writer and commented:

    Our church had a prayer meeting last Sunday night. The morning service included writing brief prayer concerns on rocks and placing them in baskets. That night, as people came to pray, at some point we were encouraged to pick of a stone and pray for the persons concern on the stone. I picked up one that simply said “Dad”. It moved me to tears. I’ve been thinking about the “Father” concept ever since then. My heavenly Father, my earthly father, and myself as a father. Then I thought of the first line of this blog entry.

  4. Pingback: Comb-Over. Father’s Day 2016 | Gerald the Writer

  5. Appreciated reading this again. Being at a different juncture with my parents.
    My mother just moved into a long term care home after being homeless (hospitalized for 6 months during which my father had no contact with her since mid March. My father being deaf had had no contact with my mother since mid March.
    My mother went into the hospital 2 days before my parent’s 69th wedding anniversary. She move into long term care on their 69th and half anniversary. Now my father has to wait 2 weeks till she is out of quarantine before he is allowed a 30 minute visit.
    Through the admission process my Dad waited for me to complete the process. So thankful that I did, as he stated, 99.9 % of the work.
    Makes me see my father in a different light on this fathers day 2020.

    • 69 years?!? Holy Schmoly! The Covid has really thrown a wrench into a lot of things, no? Happy belated Father’s Day to you if it applies! Let’s hope and pray for a meaningful summer of gratitude!

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