This was the first year I didn't at least call and talk to my Dad on Fathers' Day. I didn't make plans to visit some wacky museum or some fried catfish/chicken fried steak place with Dad. I posted a picture of Dad selling peanuts in Colorado on Facebook with the obligatory "Happy Fathers' Day" message, but only later in the day after enough guilt had settled in from reading through all the other Facebook Fathers' Day posts. My Dad is computer illiterate. Even when lucid. Anything posted online for him is a waste. That has always been the case. Posting anything about Dad on the internet has been more for your entertainment than Dad's. But everyone else was sending out Happy Fathers' Day wishes, so I thought I should jump off that cliff too. I thought maybe it would make me feel better to send out Fathers' Day wishes even though my Dad is not Dad anymore. I haven't even asked my brother or sister if they visited Dad yesterday or how he's doing. To the untrained eye it would appear that I just don't care. That could be partially true. There is something about making an effort to acknowledge and celebrate Fathers' Day when you know that really you're only doing it to make yourself feel better. "Look. I told my Dad 'I love you' on Facebook. We're cool right?" All of the internet is now aware that I love my Dad. Great. Because I don't want to look like an ungrateful child. And I realize this post is spiraling down into a sarcastic negative vortex. My Dad and my Uncle Russel used to go to their local drive-in and Dad would order a pine float. When he told this story he'd look at me and say "Ya, know what a pine float is don't ya?" and because he'd told the story so many times I always knew the answer was a glass of water with a toothpick in it. My Dad would brag to anyone he could force to listen about how his son played the drums, one daughter played the flute and the other daughter played the cello. He would say "I know they don't get that from my side. I was only good at playing the radio." My Dad's favorite show ever was Hee-Haw and we always had season passes to Silver Dollar City so Dad could sit and listen to bluegrass music all day long. It's the one thing I never heard him complain about spending money on. Of course, we had maybe a dollar to spend inside the park, but he never once complained about shelling out the money for a season pass.
In my Dad's younger years, he looked like Gomer Pyle especially when he was in his Air Force uniform. Rumor had it that his nickname then was Gomer. His favorite place on earth was Colorado. I don't know why he never made us just move there. Trout fishing for him was not a passive event. He got up every morning, headed to the lake, pond or river and fished until he'd caught his limit and everyone else's. He was a man obsessed with catching and eating all of the trout. My parents had just returned home from one such fishing trip, when I took Chris home for the first time. Of course we ate trout. Chris swears that Dad tried to kill him with a fish bone. Unintentionally.
If there's only one word to describe my Dad it would be "corny". He told the worst, most ridiculous jokes. He knew where all the best chicken fried steak dinners could be found in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Wyoming and he knew the prices for all of those dinners. They all served the best chicken fried steak for $3.99. He drove past Mt. Rushmore once and was unimpressed. He really enjoyed the idea of seeing someone getting hit in the face with a roll at Lambert's. He wore cutoff jean shorts with cowboy boots. Sometimes he'd put on a shirt with that ensemble and it was always the western styled kind that snapped down the front. He'd snap two of the snaps before heading into to town to run some errand or another.
I only ever remember seeing Dad drink any kind of alcoholic beverage twice. Once he found an unopened six pack of beer somewhere. He drank one and then made biscuits with the others. The other time was when we were in Vegas and Chris ordered that giant warp core breach drink. He'd gotten a free shot glass from the Hard Rock and he used a straw to siphon out the beverage into his shot glass. He used to smoke a pipe in the winter times when I was little. I remember the smell of his tobacco, sweet and woody smelling. That was it for his vices.
I hope that in his head he's off doing something he enjoyed, fishing, selling peanuts or driving off into the sunset on one of his long drives. I hope that in his head he's happy and I hope that somewhere in his head he remembers that we love him.
Happy Fathers' Day Dad.