If you happen to show up at my parent’s house and you have not been there for some time, it’s possible my dad will take you out to his garage and have you listen to Take It To The Limit, loud. You may also get something from The Last Waltz, most likely Who Do You Love, but not necessarily. If he’s in a female sound frame of mind you will definitely get I’d Rather Go Blind and it’ll be far more likely that you’ll get the Davina and the Vagabonds version, rather than Etta James. The stereo set up in my dad’s garage is better than some bars and stages! He likes music and he likes it loud. No old folks shouting to “turn it down” in my dad’s garage. My dad is 80 this week, but you would not know it if you met him, saw him, or talked to him…AND if you worked with him then, or work with him now, you definitely will believe him when he tells you that in his mind he is still a 14 year old boy, and I believe this much is true.
He is either the most content and the happiest person you will ever meet, or he is the most extraordinary actor and faker of our time. I have written it before and said it too many times; I have heard him raise his voice maybe three times, at the most, in my entire life, and I have never, not even once, heard him raise his voice to our mother. It takes a very strong man to not lose his cool in totally uncool circumstances or situations, but it’s no joke, my sister will tell you this much is true, we have never really heard him yell. The other thing about our dad is that he still loves our mother. “She’s the best wife I ever had” he says with a grin more times than we could ever count, and he treats her better than any man I have ever known has treated a woman.
I have absolutely no fear of growing old, or death, or dying because of him…tomorrow you could be run over by a pie wagon and you have to be ready to go every day and make plenty of deposits in your karmic bank are three of the ‘Dad-isms’ that I heard for all of my life and, and while I suppose yes, I sure would be sad to die young, or not see my granddaughters grow into women, or be run over by a pie wagon, I am completely comfortable with the fact that in fact, tomorrow could be the day, or today, or well, any day could be my time. My dad instilled in me a lust for life, and you might think we are boring in that we don’t do much of what other people find exciting or adventuresome, but we are never EVER bored…my desire to always be doing or creating or fixing or modify or cleaning is because of my dad I suppose…never really idle and never doing nothing. He always taught me to embrace work, and I do, and more importantly, to always choose to do the right thing, to tell it like it is…it seems “simple” now, such an easy way to be a human, but the world gets more wonky every day it seems, but my dad is a constant…he is the same person he has always been and to say that I am grateful, to write that my sister and my mom and my daughter and my nephew and the daughters of my daughter are grateful, is an extraordinary understatement. He is the best of men. We are so lucky that he is “ours.” The number of my friends and acquaintances who no longer have both of their parents, or are down to one, is growing every month, so to still have a dad and a mom, and that they still love each other and are in generally extremely good health, is no small thing to me.
He has done every single thing he has wanted to do in his life, and when he retired, shortly after Hurricane Sandy, he said, joked, but was quite serious, that if he never had to leave his driveway again, that would be okay. He still works all day long, every day, but now does it for himself and my mother, and their yard and their home, and with the same attention to detail and pride in the work as when he was building one-off beach homes for the rich, or the famous, or both. He started his career after the storm of 1962 and ended it after the storm of 2012 and Long Beach Island was better for having had him swing a hammer on that strip of barrier sand. He says he was “just a carpenter” but my house, his house, my sister’s house, my daughter’s house, and every other house he built, or helped build, or repaired, remodeled, or reconfigured, and every piece of furniture he ever imagined and then brought from thought to use, or metal sculpture he dreamed of and then welded, will tell you that he was, and still is, a master craftsman, and so very much more than “just” a carpenter.
If you knew me and also knew my family…you might wonder, how on earth can they be so close? You see, I am a very “blue” minded person and my family is all “red” minded all day, if you get my drift, but here’s the thing; red and blue make purple, which is the very best color, and we focus on what we have in common, and let me tell you, sometimes we’ve not got much, at all, to work with…but we try. We try not to dwell on what divides us. Years ago when I started my R*’s common grounds blog, it really was truly about just that…finding common ground, with everyone, and we do, we have, we live it every day in my family, and the secret to our life is this; you don’t have to agree with someone to love them. I have never felt unloved ever, in all of my life, from this family, and even though we can probably count on one hand the number of things we agree upon, we love each other, and there’s no limit on that…