Thursday, August 6, 2015

Happy F@#king Birthday, Dad!

I'm imagining it's an ice cream cake
Today would have been my Dad's 72nd birthday.

I've told you about Dad's day of birth, and how he celebrated at Owasippe.  Now I'm going to tell you about one of the most memorable of Dad's birthdays: the first time I ever heard him drop an F-Bomb.

I told you about our 1981 Appalachian Trail trip.  When it was all over we were driving home for two days.  We had Mr. Zaremba's van, mostly loaded with gear; and Dad's van, the "Rally STX" or "The STX" for short (pronounced either "stix" or S-T-X).

On the morning of the first day, after driving a few hours we stopped for breakfast.  It was Dad's 39th birthday and Mr. Z took him in a dinner for a nice breakfast while the youth stayed out in the van and ate leftover trail breakfast.

Trail breakfast is mostly breakfast bars so it went pretty quick.  While we were waiting for the adults to finish, my brother Shawn took a bungee cord and hooked on end to the bottom of the open sliding door and the other end on the top rain gutter.  Then he started strumming it like a standing bass.

Bum bum bum bum bum bum SNAP!

The top metal hook slipped off the roof gutter and smacked him right in the eye.  He collapsed on the ground clutching at his eye.  We knew he was badly hurt so I ran into the restaurant to get Dad and Z.  We came out and everyone was crowded around Shawn, who was sitting on the ground holding his eyes in his hands.
The STX in all her glory, and some other people

"I can't see, Dad." Shawn said.

"Uncover your eyes, son," Dad said.

Shawn did and looked up at Dad.  Dad said his one eye was completely red.  It had filled with blood.

He told us to all get in the van and he would try to find  a hospital.  We were in the middle of Somewhereville, Tennessee or Kentucky.  Dad found a medical clinic.

They clinic said they couldn't do anything for him, but they did call and talk with our eye doctor back in Chicago.  Our eye doctor said it could be treated, but he would have to get back right away, and he shouldn't fly because the change in pressure could cause more damage.

Shawn and I got in Zaremba's van.  The plan was for Z to drive like a bat out hell, trusting on Police professional courtesy to get out of any potential tickets.  The thought was that the van with few people should take the speed risk while Dad, with the bulk of the "children" should drive slower and more cautiously.

We drove straight through.  Shawn had both eyes bandaged over.  We had a pot full of corn on the cob that had been made the night before and to stay awake, and avoid stopping for food, we ate it.  Zaremba would hold the cob in both hands and steer with his elbows as he ate each individual kernel off so clean there was nuthin left for the hogs.  And he did all this while singing barbershop quartet songs and driving well over 90 mph.

We got to the hospital late at night.  They fixed Shawn up, but he spent a week in the hospital with both eyes bandaged.

What about the F-bomb?  Oh, while we were looking for a hospital Dad looked over at Shawn and said, "Why the F@#k did you do that?"

Happy Birthday Dad, and you know what, we ARE impressed.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Double Happy Father's Day

I've now lost both my Father and my Father in Law, so I wanted to share this story.  It's not really much of a story, but it means a lot to me and my wonderful bride.

Because Dad had no daughters (at the time) he thought he would never get the chance to walk a daughter down the aisle.  When we were about to be married he made a very special request of my Father in Law to be.

Because he loved Maria and was as excited as anyone to have her as part of our family he asked if it would be possible to show that by meeting my Father in Law and my bride half way down the aisle, and walking with them the rest of the way.

I didn't learn until years later that my Father in Law was very uncomfortable with this but he loved his daughter and my wife loved my Dad and wanted to do this for him.  He reluctantly agreed.

I am eternally grateful to my Father in Law for doing that for my Dad.

Dad always was, well, let's say, a rule bender.  I hope the two of them are together somewhere now enjoying the memory because I sure am.

Happy Father's Day, gentlemen!