Friendly Visitation

Standard

IMG_0898

Last night, my father visited. He’s been gone from this world for almost twenty years. He lives happily, though, in my thoughts and memories, and those of others who knew him well.

Dad’s work ethic is a constant influence in my life. I’ve told these stories before. No one could keep up. Beyond the long hours at General Motors where he worked as an electrician, Dad always had a dozen projects going. He was filling in the swampy areas, in the empty lot next door, to help to keep the mosquitoes down. He was adding a shoulder to the narrow paved road we lived on, so that the children that lived down the road would have an easier time walking to the bus stop.  He was raising pigs… chickens….an ever expanding garden…and – at any given time – keeping his own and a dozen or more other children busy and entertained.

I have joked that Dad often treated us like his own crew of migrant workers. Up in the morning early to pull weeds in the garden, at dusk we’d haul hoses and buckets to water the plants. In between there was plenty more to fill the time from helping with housework, taking care of little brothers and sisters, meal preparation, harvesting and canning, feeding the animals…and on and on. Mom was involved in all of this, too, as well as being the one to defend us, or answer to Dad if our work wasn’t done to his expectations.

His stubborn cantankerousness was legend, too. There was a particular way to make a bed, or wipe a table, or weed a row of beans. Dad didn’t just want us busy, he wanted things done right. Arguing in defense of cut corners was futile. He was rock solid in his opinions, and would hold his ground, picking up anger and momentum as the discussion continued. His sharp temper affects the way I deal with conflict, still. No matter how sure I am of my position, a contrary opinion spoken in a sharp tone will bring tears to my eyes and silence me every time. It’s humiliating, but I am unable to react in any way but the way I reacted as a child, to that tone of voice.

Listen to my ramblings for long, and one could be led to a particular image of my Dad. It would likely be inaccurate, because I’ve neglected the very best aspects of him. Beyond the firm belief in hard work and a job done correctly, and a stubborn insistence on his infinite rightness, my Dad had the heart of a young boy.

Dad was a tease. He had a twinkle in his eye and a little mischievous sideways grin that gave away his pleasure in the moment. Dad loved projects and adventures. He could turn work into play, or – when that was impossible – make the reward worth the effort. A  coca cola and a dime for the jukebox while Dad shot the breeze with the bartender was a fitting ending to a day spent in hard work. There were harvesting parties, corn-gathering parties and butchering parties, but also sledding parties – often involving the biggest hills, or specially-designed icy ramps. On Beaver Island, there were long days spent on the beach, and evenings of long drives filled with stories.

That was the person that visited last night. Driving home from a friend’s house after dinner and a movie, my Dad was suddenly with me. It wasn’t a ghost-like visitation; there was nothing mystic about it. It was only the definite feeling of Dad’s presence as I winded down the narrow roads toward home. I could picture him clearly: one hand casually slung over the bottom of the steering wheel, the other cradling a can of beer. I could imagine his voice as places led to stories, and hear his laugh as we rolled downhill toward Barney’s Lake.

The movie I’d watched was about an old man whose curmudgeon-like ways belied his big heart. The dinner was picnic fare, cooked over charcoal. I’d had two glasses of wine. The drive home, after dark and guided by the light from the head lamps, was alone a rarity for me. The route along Barney’s Lake was one of Dad’s favorite drives. I’m sure all of these things contributed to his presence last evening. Whatever the cause, it was a welcome visit!

 

 

 

Advertisements

About cindyricksgers

I am an artist. I live on an island in northern Lake Michigan, USA. I have two grown daughters, four strong, smart and handsome grandsons and one beautiful, intelligent and charming granddaughter. I live with two spoiled dogs. I love walking in the woods around my home, reading, writing and playing in my studio.

5 responses »

  1. This post is fabulous.

    I spent time with my Dad today, but he’s still live and in-person. My dad has been known to take a drink or two (or twenty), but that’s in the deep past. Affected me though, of course. My dad is a complete twit about having things done a certain way, has been forever. And my dad has the softest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. I can only hope when he passes through the veil he’ll come back to me like your dad did for you. And I hope it will happen time and time again.

    Until then I’ll take advantage of all the time I can get with him. Mom too. No one gets out of here alive, but luckily there are little moments when we get a bit of those who’ve been away for a while. Such strange and wonderful occurrences.

    • Thanks, Sara! Dad and I were not particularly close, but there were certain things we could talk about, and a few things we had in common. When I’m working hard – especially in the garden – my Dad is close. We have whole running conversations in my head! This visit was different, in that it was relaxed and fun. I don’t even try to explain these “visitations,” but they are more than just thoughts or memory. It’s a sense of presence: I feel just as I would feel if that person were right here…so I like to believe they are!

      • So cool. Whether close or not, there’s something to the father/daughter relationship. I get what you mean when you say “visitations.” Hopefully you’ll be able to continue a “relaxed and fun” relationship with your dad in times to come.

    • …and I’m so glad to hear that you recognize how fleeting life is, and cherish the moments you can now, with both of you parents. From experience I can say it is never enough!

      • It’s hard sometimes. They’re pretty old by now, feeble, addled, but what the heck, they’re my parents. I’m going to give all I’ve got now, because they gave all they had then. I appreciate that I’ve had my parents around me as long as I have, even if sometimes they drive me crazy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s