Tuesday, June 12, 2012

His memory is a blessing...

All that's missing is his hat.
I got many things from my Dad: my curly hair, my love of sports, my taste for whiskey, my appreciation of silly jokes and my optimistic outlook. Oh, and my penchant to don a hat.

Rarely seen outside without one, Dad’s hat of choice was usually a cowboy hat. To go with his cowboy boots of course, and his love of the Southwestern landscape.

In some ways, Dad was born about 90 years too late... But he wasn’t particularly fond of horseback riding and he wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello or the Dead End Kids. So instead, he was the littlest – best dressed – cowpoke East of the Mississippi.

But he wouldn’t have just missed out on the comedy … there was the music. Music that filled our house – and car – by radio or recording … Classical. Jazz. Big band. And opera. Dad’s music was the soundtrack of our childhood.

When the opportunity presented itself a few years ago, Dad actually stepped onto the opera stage… We referred to his performances as “Mike in Tights” because yes, he did wear tights one year. Ah, if only Dad could sing! Good thing that as a silent extra he didn’t have to. But we all knew he was humming along.

Dad enjoyed tradition and created some that became routine.

Whenever Nat King Cole came on the radio, he’d say: That man could sing the basketball scores from the Sunday paper and it’d be a hit!

When the freight train would rumble by the baseball fields during one of my guys’ games he’d check the time on his watch and invariably say: The 2:15 or the 5:20 or the 11:13 – right on time! Dad had such an effect on people that my friends would say it even on the rare occasion Dad didn’t make it to a game.

And one of Mark’s and my favorite traditions happened at breakfast on Sunday mornings…When we were all served, Dad would make sure he had two extra pieces of bacon…and when only the eggs were left on our plates and all we wanted was another piece of bacon, Dad would hand us each one of the ‘extra’ pieces from his plate. I don’t know how old I was when I realized he took more just so he could give us that treat, but I was old.

That was Dad. He had a particular knack to make everyone around him feel special.

And while some would say I got my easy smile from him, no one’s smile came easier or brighter than Dad’s. It was a beacon of friendship, kindness, caring and goodness. And with it, he told the world: Join me and we’ll get through it together.

Flashing that grin, Dad made friends – true, heartfelt friends – everywhere he went: the local bakery, the bank, the cafĂ© and yes, even the hospital, where he’d chat on end with the receptionists before AND after going to rehab. He was so important to them that they took good care to ease our visits during these past months and we’re grateful.

I’m not going to tell you how much Dad loved each of you. You already know because he told you each time you were together. It was in his firm handshake; his tight hug; his tender kiss.

It was in his eyes Saturday evening when I told him he made the sun shine in my life and that I am who I am because of him…

…All our lives have been richer and sweeter having known him.

To celebrate my father and one of his favorite treats, here's a link to the previously posted Ebinger's Blackout Cake.