Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Morning Ritual

My dad was always an early riser. He would get up and make coffee and be sitting at the table reading the paper listening to the radio every morning that I can remember. My brothers and I would join him, and Dad would make us coffee/milk with lots of sugar. Through the years we had different morning routines depending on our age. When I was really little, I would make a little squealing noise and Dad would come get me out of bed and carry me to the table. He continued this routine with my little sister until she was too big to be carried. Then he set a pillow in a chair especially for her and tucked a blanket around her and made her coffee and cereal – all without her speaking.

Sometimes Dad would get us dressed and take us somewhere for coffee. I think it was his way of giving Mom some time away from us kids. Getting to go with Dad was always special. I remember sitting at Woody’s Village Inn in RR when Pete was about a year old. Dad ordered him a coke, and we tried to teach Pete to drink with a straw. Pete blew coke all over everything. We thought we were in trouble, but Dad just laughed. In the cabin up Bitter Creek in Red River, we had a huge table with a bench down one side and old chairs down the other – all in front of a picture window. When Craig and I got up in the mornings, we would stand in our bedroom door and wait until Dad turned in his chair. He would clap his hands and hold them open for us in a "lets do it" motion. Then we would run and jump in his lap. We actually broke some of the old chairs with this morning ritual. When we moved into the Green Mountain Lodge, our bedroom was upstairs so Dad did not carry us to the table – we were getting a bit big for that anyway. Craig and I often stopped on our way downstairs and sat at the top of the stairs – at the first floor ceiling level – where the warm air had risen. That old lodge was drafty and that was a warm place before we headed down for coffee.

One morning memory we kids share is playing ball with our dog, Pumpkin. That dog could catch a tennis ball like no other dog – he was great. Dad was drinking his coffee and reading the paper while we threw the ball to Pumpkin. Dad told us to stop throwing the ball in the house, but we threw it one more time. It bounced off Pumpkin’s nose and landed perfectly in Dad’s coffee cup without knocking it over. Of course, coffee was displaced onto Dad’s newspaper. If we hadn’t been so frozen with fear, we probably would have cheered the perfect placement of the ball. It was plumb amazing. I think Dad was awed too. I don’t remember getting in trouble, but I do remember that we stopped throwing the ball in the house.

As teenagers, we began going our separate ways in the mornings. Maybe we slept in more. The rituals fell by the wayside. But on Saturday mornings I would get up early with Dad. We would go to the Pup and Rowdy games during football season. Sometimes we would hit the junkyards and antique stores in the old part of WF. Dad and I would walk together holding hands like when I was little. He would tell me about growing up in WF, delivering newspapers, working for his uncles, who lived where, etc. These were special times for me. It gave me a special relationship with Dad that my brothers did not have. Later in life they would wonder why. Maybe Dad was busy making men out of his boys, but he could spoil me. Maybe it was that my personality just meshed with Dad, but mostly, it was that I was just a Daddy’s girl. Pure and simple.

9 comments:

The Friendly Neighborhood Piper said...

i love these stories about your dad. The way he handled situations, good or bad, makes for some introspection on my part...sometimes giving me a bit of foresight. Interesting that your dad is still teaching, from a distance. Staying at your mom's house last weekend lent a sense of contact.

Mrs. Bear said...

Otto was one of a kind. I loved his serious blue eyes. He blessed my family. Erin still says, " Pa?...Oh you mean "Gummy Worm Pa!!!" Oh the things he could have taught the kids. Like the time he took us all dancing up at the Lazy H Ranch...oh my!!!!

Dale said...

Lou, thanks for the memories. Talk about flashback. I thankfully was a part of several of those moring wake-ups. The last moment I had with your dad was the morning after a pretty rough Friday night. You dad came into the room I was sleeping in and asked me if I was going to sleep my life away. I think it was around 8 am. You and Craig were leaving for Red River to go snow skiing that morning. While ya'll were loading the car your father took me back in the house and had a good long heart to heart with me. It was then that he asked me what I was going to do with my life and advised me to come up with a "philosophy of life" for myself, it was then that he told me that he worried about me and my drinking (he knew the background of my childhood), and it was then that I realized how much he did care about me and years had gone by from when I had last seen him and that morning. I made the decision shortly after that to join the AF and make a career out of it. I know I have expressed this before but there are not many men that I loved and respected more. I'm just sorry that I never really got to express that to him! Again thanks for the memories. Looking forward to seeing you and Toby soon!

Bag Blog said...

Dale, the fact that you took Dad's advice and went on to become a good husband and father was expression enough. Dad would have been proud of you.

Inquiries said...

I love the stories about your dad.

Towanda said...

I can't think of anything more precious than good family memories.

Thanks for preserving yours here and sharing them with us, Lou. Wonderful reading!

Buck said...

I'm in complete agreement with everyone who commented before me. Your Dad is most definitely a role model for fathers everywhere.

And Dale: Your story is especially poignant. Thanks for that.

Becky said...

What wonderful memories you have about your Dad, Lou. I enjoyed reading them.

Jo Castillo said...

Great memories. Thanks for sharing. I would have liked to know your dad.

Hugs.