Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Remembering Pop, A Year After His Passing.

Pop's Sunday morning record concerts, the stack of records, The Harmonicats playing Ramona and Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White.

Being taught to cast a fishing line into a circle drawn in the barn lot gravel, at six years old.

Going fishing the next day, I caught a sun fish, he caught none. He said, “There goes a good fishing buddy.”

Nasty canned Lima beans with sugar sprinkled on them.

The massive sombrero that he wore when mowing grass toward the end of his grass mowing days. So silly and yet so useful.

The really rough times. The really good times, the every day stuff and the smile at the mundane.

Pop making sure that at nine years old I got to see the first moon walk, while camping with no electricity. Well, someone had it, a t v and our families joined to see it together. We didn't know them, but my father never met a stranger, and they taught us to make somores. .

Having a tooth pulled while wearing painful boots, I was 10 years old. After the injection of sodium penethal the sandman asked me how I liked the boots, I said, “I hate the damn things, they hurt like hell.” (Now you know why they call is truth serum.) Dad, though we couldn't really afford it, bought me new shoes on the way home from the oral surgery.

Dad's musical prowess, he played the juice harp, the kazoo and the obnoxious tambourine. As opposed to the non obnoxious tambourine. His musical talent was really designed for the first thing I listed.

The braying donkey planter that sat on the dresser all of my life, a gift from his mother. I found one at a thrift store and bought it for a dollar. I've never ever seen another.

The photo of his mother that sat on the table next to whatever was considered his chair.

Tears when he spoke of his mother.

Peanut butter and any sweet sticky pour-able substance that could be qualified as syrup.

The big soup spoon that he ate many many things with, the one I called, “his shovel”

The day that he told me to come to him, (he couldn't see me in the kitchen,) I said, “Just a second.” He said,”now, drop everything you're doing,” he said, I dropped two of my mother's drinking glasses on the floor and broke them to shards. When I went he said, “Well, I was going to tell you to get me a glass of tea, but I think I owe you an apology and I need to get a broom.”

The smile on his face, though he didn't want to at first, at the party that my sisters and I gave he and mom for their 40th wedding anniversary. Mom said, “give us a 40th , we might not make it to 50.” He missed it by four years.

The covert peacock like style that he strutted around my grand opening, but he could hide it no longer, his pride ran over.

His love for my mother, he adored her. What an example.

The way that he handled it when I came out....”I know,” he said, and went on.

The way he loved the food that he ate, it was a contributing factor in his death, yet he enjoyed every bite.

I didn't know that he read, and I had NO idea that he read The Christian Science dad?

His adoration for his children, grandchildren, all children. The way that he would rock a baby and sing to them. I remember him singing, “I'm walking beside you on our wedding day, I would walk beside you, but you're in the way.”

The fact that he was insistent that his children's names could not be shortened. My name is Don, not Donald. He often said that when I was born they asked him if he meant Donald on the birth certificate. He told them no thanks, he couldn't afford the other three letters.

I love the fact that I share his middle name and that it is a legacy that he received from his grandfather, one that I received from him and one that my nephew shares with all of us. Jerome, there aren't many of them.

I am grateful for the punishment that he meted out. Some of the styles of “torture” seemed cruel and unusual at the time, but they really weren't, but I still don't buy the idea that they were to build character.

A fond memory: I remember saying when I was about thirty five that it was so hard for a gay man to meet a man of quality, that I guessed that my standards were just too high. So, my father said something about it to a man who worked on one of the docks where they were unloading Pop's truck. The fellow turned to my father and said, “Maybe it's because he hasn't met me.” My father tried to arrange a date, but it never worked out. I always say that my father became so comfortable with his gay son that he was willing to “cruise” for me.

Once in my life, my father selected a very sentimental card to send me, signed it, “Love, Pop.” and addressed it and mailed it to me. He did that once again with a birthday card, he only sent me cards twice in our lives.

On May 16th of last year, my father Gary passed away. His death has been one of the most difficult things that I've ever dealt with in my life. However, it has strengthened my spirituality, given me a better understanding of resurrection faith, and it has given me a view of what I am really made of, some times strong as limestone, sometimes weak as jello..

I do take great comfort in fond memories, memories that aren't too fond are helpful too. It all boils down to knowing that we will be with one another again.

I look forward to the day.


Anonymous Rachel said...

Thanks for sharing your memories of your pop. I'm sure it helps to keep him alive in some way. I am lucky in that I still have both of my parents. I can't imagine life without them but one day will have to experience what you have experience this last year.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Don Bryant said...

I was told on the anniversary of my father's passing that I should remember this advice, it sounds very sound to me, "I wish I could say that it gets better, it doesn't. It just gets different."

I see that as good advice and it was spoken from knowledge.

Thanks for reading my blog Rachel.

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don, your dad was indeed a very special person and good one to emulate. I too have some special memories of him but one in particular stands out above the rest and is one that best epitomize all that my Uncle was. It was when I talked to him shortly after learning my 17 year old was pregnant. He said "Tell her to keep the baby. It will be a blessing." FYI - He was so very right!


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