Decifering Dad


As much as Mom was a constant in my life; Dad was a mystery.  He got up each morning, did the barn chores, ate breakfast and went off to work.  When he got home, he did barn chores again, ate supper, watched Johnny Carson and went to bed.  Dad liked to talk more than he liked to listen.  Dad got headaches,  he got embarrassed and he got angry.  Perhaps in some ways, Dad was more like a kid, like me.  He just went to work, instead of to school.

I liked to be around Dad, ’cause he made everything seem like an adventure. Sometimes, that adventure could turn south, for no good reason; kinda like when Loren-dee-dee-bopper had a tantrum.  Except with Dad, it was scarey instead of funny, ’cause Loren-dee-dee-bopper was jut a toddler with a squeeky, whiny voice, and Dad was a big boomer.  Dad was funny as all get out.  Still, he hated to be teased.  Once I said the blue cheese that he loved smelled just like his feet.  I wasn’t even teasing; just telling the truth.  That’s half the reason I hated blue cheese.  He got so mad at me, it was almost as bad as when I beat him at checkers.

I knew Dad was super proud of me, ’cause he gave me a dime for every “A” I got on my report card.  He said he was going broke on account of me and all my “A’s,” but he said that with those stars twinking in his blue eyes, that told he was really loved giving me those dimes.  He taught me how to play checkers.  Checkers was Dad’s favorite game of all time.  His dad taught him how to play, way back when he was a kid.  I never thought I could beat Dad, ’cause he had all those years of practice, but one day, sure enough, I won.   I gloated like a puffed up rooster.  Dad got so mad he Continue reading

Tell-Tale Signs: Fools and Weeds

Grandma Z and me

I hate weeds.  I have since I was a little girl.  Still, I love flowers and vegetables and being out in the yard plucking and pruning.  I have since I was too little to remember.  Perhaps it allows me to share in creation.  Perhaps it gives me some feeling of control over something.  Yet, sometimes I let a plant grow, just to see what it becomes.  I fail to recognize, categorize, or otherwise understand whether it is friend or foe. Like camping, gardening was passed on from one generation to another.

Mom loved to garden, but she had no luck at all.  The only flower she grew was gladiolas.  I hate those things, ’cause everybody sent those to funerals.  Smelling them made me think somebody died.  The glads, as Grandma called them, were back behind the sandbox, beside the asparagus.  Mom was good at growing asparagus, but not so good at cutting it, on account of asparagus grows super fast and gets woody, then it’s no good to eat.  I liked the way it looked when Mom forgot to cut it and it went to seed.  It got all feathery soft, like something that grew on a far off planet I saw on The Outer Limits.  That show gave me the heebie-jeebies, not so much when I watched it, but after I went to bed.  That’s part-way why I never slept with my toes or had sticking out of the covers.

Mom tried and tried to grow a smoke bush, but somebody kept running over it with the lawnmower.  No matter how much staking and flagging she did, that smoke bush was dust.  She probably should have planted Continue reading

Pride Goeth Before the Fall

We had just one bathroom when I was a little girl.  That seems strange by today’s standards:  there was never less than six people in my house.  Even back when Uncle Merle and Dad were farming together, and later when there were renters, only one bathroom.  Now that’s how people learns how to coöperate, negotiate, and just plain old get along.

The bathroom shared a wall and a heating register with my bedroom.  Of course, I shared my bedroom with Deanna and Bonita.  I always shared, from the time I was born.  Well, some things were all mine, like my Easter basket, my place at the table, and any mistakes I made.

Late at night, or early in the morning Dad came a-harumphing up the stairs, before he went to bed, or before he went to work.  I never knew which of those things it was, ’cause it was dark out, and I’d been sleeping awhile, and the Baby-Ben alarm clock was on Deanna’s side of the bed, and she got mad if I crossed over the middle line and got on her side.  Anyways, I heard Dad let out a big stinker before he went #1.  That’s the way he did it; the same way every time.  A big loud butt-burp, followed by garden hose peeing. I guessed Dad had to let a stinker go first, kinda like a cork popping out of a bottle top.

Lots of times, us girls goofed around in the bathroom, ’cause we were always waiting for someone on the toilet or someone brushing her teeth, ’cause everything went on in there at the same time.  I liked to pretend the bathtub was a trapeze or the high-wire at the circus, even though I never went to the real circus, just saw pictures in a book and on TV.  I balanced pretty good in my bare feet or tennis shoes, but Continue reading

High Pięć for Mr. Kopczyński

In fifth grade, I was in love with my teacher, Mr. Kopczyński.  Now I struggle to understand my 10 year-old mind.  Mr. Kopczyński was neither young, nor attactive.  He was far from the most attentive teacher I ever had, and maybe middling on intelligence.  Still, I loved him.  I was his Favorite.

Mr. Kopczyński said he was a distant cousin of Grandpa’s, Mom’s dad.  Mom just moved her eyeballs underneath her closed lids. “Well, yes, ” she sad, with her eyelids still covering her eyes. We’re all related if you go back far enough.”  Then she picked up a sheet fresh from the clothesline and told me to take the other end and help her fold.  She told me I was related to a Polish author with a name I could never say, and who I never even heard about in my whole entire life.  Continue reading

Halloween, Love, and Little Birdies

I am certain I did many things that  made my mother shake her head in disbelief.  Sometimes it was amazement; sometimes it was disdain or incredulity.  More than once I heard Mom say, “I can’t believe the way your mind works.”  Some things I did, in hindsight, surely made Mom’s hair stand on end.  I fell in love with David when I was in fourth grade.  What was I thinking?

Most of the time, Dad took us kids trick-or-treating down one side of our road and up the other.  That was super-fun, getting candy for no good reason, just for dressing up in a good costume and calling out “Trick-or-Treat.”   I found out later than “Trick” meant ‘give me candy or I’ll do something mean,’ like soap your windows, or turn over your outhouse, or maybe stick a potato in your car’s tailpipe, like Mom did when she was a kid.  I never ‘tricked’ anyone, ’cause for one thing, I never knew that was an option, and for another thing, Dad was there, and he always made me be polite.  Besides, nobody ever threw cold water all over me when I yelled “Trick-or-Treat”, like some guy did to Mom and Uncle Ken and Uncle Gene, so those three got thinking about getting even.  For Pete’s sake, what an old meanie that man was; he deserved to be tricked.  Still, Continue reading