A real family man, I recall his calm, steady presence. He made every situation better by being a part of it. Always had our backs, while giving us the freedom to figure out things for ourselves. He provided plenty of guidance and boundaries, but didn't sweat the small stuff.
Dad's favorite saying was, "Learn from other people's mistakes. Life is too short to make them all yourself."
When I was a teenager still living at home, I passed a widow to see my sedulous Father petering around in the backyard ... fully engaged in figuring out creative ways of whipping into manicured shape the grass; our magnolia tree; and the tomato and green pepper plants he set out. Sometimes he planted cucumber, curled parsley (in a flower pot) and several rows of chives also.
Just a little garden: A small rectangle section of the yard was roped off with cotton string and long poles inserted into the ground to support the growing steams of the vegetables. Dad then cut pieces of aluminum foil, hanging them on the twine. The Sun's reflection on the sheets of foil was his trick in scaring hungry, forager birds away from his tomatoes and green peppers. He claimed it blinded them.🌞 Certainly, my Dad was in his element in our backyard.
My Father occupied a similar role in our family. He was a solid, knowing, protective force, making us feel safe just by being there.
The year he died, my Mom wanted to keep up the backyard,
even setting out some tomato plants in early May. Dad made it look so easy, and although Mom worked hard doing everything she saw him do, she just didn't have the knack. Weeds escaped her; she didn't know how to trim next to a sidewalk; and she produced no tomatoes. One day I entered the backyard on a visit home. I was struck by my Mom's defeated face as she turned around to quietly say, "Grass, I hate it." Her sad tone was a painful reminder to both of us: The gardener was gone forever.😢💙
We would carry on as the living must ... yet in a different form.
In a myriad of ways, my Father was the right man for our family. We miss so many things about him, treasuring our memories and evoking how he was the best Dad ever!
|Photo: The Indian Express|
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