Essay — Remembering Dad

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On the last day of July, I looked at the calendar and realized it was my father’s birthday. If he were alive, he’d be 105. He’d probably say that was a good number and place a bet on it.

Image source: Sander van der Wel via Wikimedia Commons
Image source: Sander van der Wel via Wikimedia Commons

The strange thing is that here in Carpenter Country, we hardly ever mention him. Most likely his name rarely comes up because he seldom spoke about himself.

I learned of his early life in dribs and drabs: He had four brothers and one sister. He studied to be a draftsman, but worked with his father as a chimneysweep. He came to America and could only find a job as a busboy.

When I was young, he taught me to swim, ride a bike and drive a car. During my teens, we didn’t get along, and I confess to spending more than a few hours disliking him intensely. But time moved on, he grew mellow–or I grew up.

Either way, I discovered he had a gambler’s jolly heart.

Point him at a horse race and he’d smile for the rest of the day. Suggest a poker game and he’d chuckle all the while he was winning your money. Give him a lottery ticket and there was no containing his glee.

The morning I noticed the date on the calendar, I wished him a happy birthday…and good luck wherever he was.

In my imagination, I saw him grin, as he answered in his slightly German accent, “Where’s the cake? I bet I can blow out all the candles!”


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