I was more dependent than most on my parents. They were always there to clean up the messes I made--some of them big messes. While Mom was the comforter, the optimist, Dad was the pragmatist, my reality check. If I was BSing him, he'd call me on it--and somehow he almost always knew.
I guess that came from the harsh realities of his early years: discovering at fourteen that his mother had died when he was a baby (ruled a suicide, but there were rumors that her husband had killed her while drunk)...having a father and a stepmother who weren't loving parents...leaving home, being on his own for a time before finding a home with his maternal grandmother...and a failed marriage.
Dad was mercurial. He could be fun, protective, committed--but there were also times he was dark and moody, not wanting to talk to anyone. He could be stubborn and childish at times. (Mom said that was why Dad and I so often butted heads--we were too much alike.)
I don't have too many photos. Dad didn't like having his picture taken.
Maybe she was right--to an extent. We both had tempers, but we were like faucets. Mine ran hot, blowing like an angry volcano. Dad's was cold. He rarely argued, instead retreating into a chilling silence.
But not always. I remember one incident in particular...I was a teenager at the time. Dad bought a dump truck (he designed and built houses, usually doing everything himself). Our next door neighbor at the time had volunteered the use of the truck to her church--without asking Dad if he was okay with that. (It's a long story.) Dad put the brakes on that, and the neighbor was furious. One Saturday, Mom went out, taking Dad's pickup instead of her own car. The neighbor must have thought Dad was gone and Mom would be alone and an easier target for her anger. I was in the living room, watching TV when that clearly suicidal redhead came storming into our house, not bothering to knock. She headed for the kitchen. From the sound of things, Godzilla must have been in there. It was like watching a film in reverse. She backed out of the kitchen, through the dining room, through the living room, out the front door, with Dad following, as angry as I've ever seen him.
It was fun to watch.
Dad had a great sense of humor. I learned some of my best pranks from him. There were some, though, that even I wouldn't try.
He's been gone twenty-six years now. He had a premonition of his own death in great detail...and it happened exactly as he predicted. I think that was God's way of telling Dad to get his affairs in order, to get right with Him, before it was too late. I hope he did.
Happy Father's Day, Dad. Wish you and Mom were here. There's a wrestling event tonight, right here in St. Louis. You would have loved that!