New Year’s Day, we spent time on the Bolivar Peninsula. Looking toward the open sea, I saw a monster vessel coming in through the haze. Heading up the ship channel to one of the ports.
How many times did my father make that passage to Texas City? He worked in the engine room of an oil tanker. Sabine Towing and Transportation. S.S. Guadalupe. Diamond S. He sailed on the S.S. Brazos a time or two. The company was locally operated, though owned by Chromaloy. They took very good care of Daddy when he was sick. They flew him home one time when his bipolar depression got too bad while aboard ship. I remember he had lost his false teeth; and I remember going with Mother to the airport to pick him up.
I also remember the smell of his Old Spice cologne and King Edward cigars. The whiteness of his tee shirt. The tan of his khakis. How his head felt when Mother had freshly cut his hair. Just bare clippers run over his entire scalp. He liked pipes and Louis L’Amour. He preferred a flat bottom aluminum boat and running trot lines. He liked to squirrel hunt rather than deer hunt.
When he was younger and well, he always had a project going. Some scheme with fishing or planting or brewing usually. When he was older and sick, he would again try to work on projects.
He taught me how to fix bicycle tires and to tinker with lawn mowers. He let me paint the clothesline poles. He let me argue with him about current events. I would get so worked up and he would let me go on with my temper flaring. He never told me to be quiet or anything. Mother would finally intervene and hush us up. He didn’t get mad. He just seemed to want me to debate about things and to learn to see both sides of things. To look beyond my own scope of understanding and see something more. And to respect what generations before me had endured.
That ship in the haze certainly was real. And it definitely stirred up a ghost in my memories.
I am blessed beyond measure with a man who is still taking care of his children. They don’t need much tending, but he is the first person they call when anything good or bad or funny or sad happens. If they have a question or learn some new bit of information, his phone rings or his text pings. Always Dad, not Mama. And I am good with that. I don’t know who I might have been had my own father been similar.
We had a good visit with the children yesterday. We also had time with the tiny girls, aka wild ones. They play together and fight over toys and love each other. One is fair and blonde haired, the other dark and brown haired. Both with brown eyes. Stubborn like him and his children.
What will life bring for them? Will I see them as grown women? Will they still want me to paint their nails and pile up in the bed to watch a movie and go to sleep snuggled next to me?
I’m sure he will teach them how to drive the buggy and the tractor. They will learn all about the cows they both love. I hope their interest will continue as they grow. It will mean so much to him.
He is like me about the children and grands. We don’t agree with the saying about skipping the kids to have the grandchildren. We adore our own two so much and always had great fun raising them. He loves being a father and that makes being a Paw Paw even sweeter.
My mood is a bit bittersweet this morning, though. I still miss my parents and his. They did not get to live out their full life span. How different life might have been. How different this day might have been. Life doesn’t go on happily ever after for anyone. We just have to savor each hour as it comes and not waste the next wishing for the last.
Happy Father’s Day to my Rock. And to my son. And to my son-in-law. And thank you, Father, for upholding me through this sometimes bittersweet journey. Help me, Lord Jesus, to savor the now.