Saturday, June 14, 2008

My Father

He died almost 7 years ago, shortly after raising the flag at half-mast the day after the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon.

At age 65 he could still hold his entire body horizontally with just his hands grasping a vertical pole.

As a boy, he saw his own father die, falling drunkenly off a sleigh and run over by the blades.

In his early 20s, he conducted a streetcar in Milwaukee.

In the 1940s he worked in the southern California desert on the then-experimental jet planes.

He met my mother (his second wife) at the Black Cat Club in Miami, after World War II.

Having been treated badly for being German American while growing up in the Midwest between the two world wars, he wouldn’t allow me to study the German language in school.

He never spanked me, but he did yell at me once for not recognizing a Phillips head screwdriver.

Our long-distance phone conversations never lasted more than three minutes—tops.

When we lived in Fort Walton Beach, FL, he tied a pet rabbit of mine to the trunk of a tree and shot it with a bow and arrow, and my mother cooked the rabbit for dinner that evening.

In his later years he become fascinated with his family’s genealogy.

He liked Bette Midler’s singing voice.

He liked James Bond and Pink Panther movies.

Despite having had a series of heart attacks, he was my mother’s principal caregiver in her dementia during the last years of her life.

He seldom praised anything—his highest praise was to say that something was “not bad.”

He hated Father’s Day and grumbled over any attempt I made to celebrate it with him.

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