My father was a plumber and an electrical repairman as well as a general do-it-yourself repairman. He taught me many valuable lessons.
My father was the middle boy of 6 children growing up in the southern part of Indiana. There were some 5 to 6 years between his age and his younger brother, Butch. As siblings often do, they fought from time to time. My father expressed his annoyance about having the younger brother “tagging along” all the time. He had many stories he told us about his little brother and how he ditched him.
Although he told these funny stories about what a pest his little brother was, I suspect they bonded and were inseparable. Whenever we went to Indiana from California for a visit, Dad spent most of his time with his brother, fishing, talking, and reminiscing. Butch has to be my favorite uncle because he looks and talks so much like my father did.
“It is much easier to become a father than to be one.”.
— Kent Nerburn
Gone Too Soon
Although my dad has been gone 28 years now, I still remember his voice and his walk. Mom said he had ESP. Whenever she put the meat on the table for dinner, she would say, “Where is your father,” to all of us, and just then he would come driving in the driveway. Every time she would say, “He must have smelled it.” And I think maybe he did.
I worry about my mother alone all these years. When she was younger and more capable there was nothing but her loneliness to be concerned about. But lately, she has been unsteady and falls a lot. The doctor has told her if she drops something, to leave it lay there, but my mom is still stubborn. She will be 90 this July.
Here is the story Dad told about ditch his brother.
Ma little brother, Butch, was an annoying bugger. He wanted ta faller me everwhere. I was gettin’ perty tarred of it but Momma said he could go with me as long as he could keep up. I was ‘bout thirteen or fourteen and wanted to meet ma buddies without a tag-a-long. Sos I was determined to ditch that varment. I hopped on our hay-burner bareback and trotted off with Butch faithfully a runnin’ along behind me. He was a perty fast kid. Even on horseback I could see I wadn’t goin’ ta lose heem easy. Sos I waited ‘till I turned a bend in the road, jumped off ma horse an we hid in them bushes by the side of the dirt road. Perty soon, here come Butch, pumpin' his arms, huffin’ and a puffin’. He was a picken’ ‘em up and a putten’ ‘em down.
Ah admit, I did feel a twinge a guilt as I seen ‘em rush past, but I dismissed it. Glad to be shed of the varment, I went on to meet ma buddies.
Butch forgave me though, ya reckon?
“It is admirable for a man to take his son fishing, but there is a special place in heaven for the father who takes his daughter shopping.”
— John Sinor
I am the oldest of 3 sisters and then one little brother. The poor boy is tail in the line-up. We certainly harassed him and made fun of him at times. He was always trying to “wraastle” with us but we were all bigger than him. More than once we would get him down and sit on him. Then he would make us laugh by saying, “I’ll give you a chance.” I remember laughing so hard he was able to get away.
However, my sisters and I didn’t have the closest relationship until now that we are grown. So Dad’s stories of trying to ditch his brother resonated with me. I wanted to ditch those girls in the worst way but Mom was always putting me “in charge.” That’s a laugh. They never listened to me or obeyed me. I was in charge of nothing and no one.
Dad told us a story about a penny. You have to picture three prissy little girls gathered around him to hear a funny story, all dressed in frilly dresses with petticoats (those were the days), prim and somewhat proper. He absolutely loved to hear us squeal and get offended. He said that one day he accidentally swallowed a penny. That in itself is gross when you consider how dirty money tends to be. I mean, who knows where it’s been. Anyway, he said he was walking in the woods when he got the “call to nature” so he squatted down right there in the woods and relieved himself. All three of us grunted and “Aww Dad,” him but then he went on with a slightly wicked smile on his face. He said he turned around and noticed there was something shiny in the warm pile. It was his penny. But now it was bright and shiny and new looking. So he fished it out of the pile and wiped it on his pants and put it in his pocket. By this time we were all grossed completely out. “Eww Dad, how could you?” "Oh, Dad! You awful boy!" But he just laughed. I have never handled money without thinking of the places it could have been.
Have you any stories to share about your father’s childhood. I’d love to hear about them. Let me know in the comments below.