It was a small gathering for Father's Day yesterday. My oldest brother and his wife were away in Utah meeting their newest grandson. My youngest brother and his family live out of state in Utah, so that left the celebration to L and me, and my SIL Jill and brother Chris. Making her appearance on behalf of the absent grandkids (most out of state, and some even out of the country!) was Chris and Jill's daughter Margot. She is always fun to have around, although I'm not sure how fun it was for her to be surrounded by everyone old and older. No matter - she has just been accepted into the master's program at USC, so we got to catch up with her.
Dad, as usual was anxiously awaiting everyone's arrival. Sadly, we all have late church and weren't able to get there until late in the afternoon, but we had prepared a feast, and the fun soon began. Normally, Dad just stays in the family room attached to his hospital bed, but he asked if there was anything he could help with, so I told him to come on into the kitchen and just visit with us while we made the last minute preparations. He was happy to be part of things and was soon sitting at the kitchen table chattering away giving us his latest family news, and catching up on anything new we had to tell him. Meanwhile, L and I put the finishing touches on the shrimp rolls (like lobster rolls, but with shrimp) and the corn chowder. Jill had brought watermelon, so it was the perfect summer dinner. Katie and Zach had just spent the weekend on Cape Cod following Zach's graduation from his residency program, and I was so jealous, I guess I was hungry for all things New England.
Mom had set a pretty table (as usual!) and we all sat and talked and noshed on our summer food, and I enjoyed watching Dad enjoy it all. He loves nothing more than to be surrounded by his family. And we/I received kind of a bonus gift: he started to tell us some stories of his boyhood in Spanish Fork, Utah and they were stories I had never ever heard before. And they were great. I saw my dad in a whole new light - he was a real boy after all, rather than the serious, bookish kids I had always pictured him as.
The first story involved he and his friends driving through town at around age 14-15 throwing firecrackers out the window at the people the passed. Can you imagine??? Not only was this a peek at a side of my dad I'd never seen before, it was a look into a world that just doesn't really exist anymore. Anywhere. So I absolutely must write it down here before I forget.
But the best story of all was when they were, again, about 15-16 (that age is just trouble, I've decided...) and they poured gasoline across the highway (which admittedly, was not then the major Interstate 15 it is now). Then, when a car would come along, they would torch it up just before the car arrived. As luck would have it, the third car to come along was a police car, and he was going to arrest all of them. Happily, though, the boys just told him they lived in Spanish Fork, and they needed to get home to make it to football practice. And the policeman let them go!! Because he didn't want them to be late for football practice. And he probably knew all of their dads. I laughed so hard at that one. Only in small town America in the 40s. No wonder my dad remembers such an idyllic childhood. One where foolishness was gently corrected, and parents were left to do their jobs. Not so many people to protect, so admittedly, it was easier to make the decision to be lenient. But the best part was watching my dad tell the tale, remembering each detail, and laughing so hard that his eyes crinkled up in that way he has. It was a good good night.
Too soon, we cleared the table and had dessert. The caregiver, Geoffrey, got my dad in his PJs and all ready for bed. And since my brother had just flown in from overseas the day before after two weeks gone, and was seriously jet lagged, they had to go. L and I stayed a bit longer, talking and visiting until I could see Dad getting sleepy. I didn't want a repeat of the last week when Dad literally begged us to stay longer. My heart can't take much of that. It sounds like they've got some things to keep them busy this week, and I'll try to stop in or give a call.
And next Sunday, we are ALL (except the brother in Utah) gathering once again for my parents' 63rd wedding anniversary. L sat with my dad a few weeks ago and helped him plan this for everyone, while I was enjoying myself in Seattle with my girls. (Yes, he is SUCH a keeper...to sit and help Dad with this!) Dad wants to get food from Cheesecake Factory for everyone and, once again, be surrounded by his family. I will have to look at the menu this week and place my order. I'll need to try and record bits of the evening in video so the grandkids can see - especially if he starts telling stories again.
In other news, this little guy turned 7 yesterday on Father's Day - which also happened to be his birthday.
So Father's Day this year was filled with all the best kinds of family memories - lots of laughing, lots of tenderness, and rounded out with good food. I think Dad really enjoyed himself, being the center of attention. And on the way down to that, I got to talk to cute Matthew and hear the excitement in his voice as he told me that they'd just finished dinner, and as soon as they cleaned up, they would have his Super Mario cake AND cotton candy ice cream. That's the stuff good dreams are made of, my friends - birthdays that satisfy all of your simple, 7 year old desires. I just love that kid.
Now let's see if we can give Mom and Dad the same good dreams next week as we celebrate their 63 years together. And if luck smiles, there will be some good stories told.