A Tribute to My Dad

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

Hope all of you had a wonderful Father’s Day! And that you were able to give your dad a hug and maybe some little gift that he pretended to like. Well, maybe he really liked whatever you got him. My dad never was into gifts that much. He liked for us to come over and make homemade banana ice cream in the crank freezer. That was always fun. And yummy!

My dad passed on in 1987 from pancreatic cancer. It wasn’t an easy passing. He didn’t like being sick. Worse, he knew he wasn’t going to get well. It was a hard time for all of us. I’m sure many of you have lost your dads too. If so, I hope you spent a few minutes remembering him today and thinking about some special times you had together. My dad was a farmer and we spent a lot of time helping him in the fields. He liked to play bridge and rook and solitare. He was a whiz at math even though he never went to high school. He started driving when he was ten. Back then you didn’t have to have a license or be a certain age to drive. He loved to travel and always wanted to go to Alaska, but he wouldn’t fly. So he never made the long drive there. He got a motorcycle when he was twenty-one much to his mother’s nervous distress and took a summer trip to Oregon on it to visit some cousins who had traveled west to settle. He went out there several more times after that in a car.

When I was five, we drove out there in a green Studebaker. There were five of us. I was the youngest kid. My sisters were eleven and seven. A great aunt rode back with us. I wonder now how she survived being cooped up in that little back seat with three little girls, I don’t remember her being cranky. Just old. Now I also wonder how old she really was. Probably not nearly as old as I thought she was. Perspective on age changes as you get older and turn into a great aunt or granny yourself.

Dad loved to play horseshoes. He was very competitive and would pitch horseshoes every night when he came in from the fields until he had thrown whatever number of ringers he set as a goal for himself. After he got older, he started going to horseshoe competitions which he enjoyed, but he was already past his prime in throwing ringers. If he had competed when he was younger, he would have been a champion, I’m sure. He also liked to play pool and clay court croquet.

I named my first son after him, but he didn’t really want me to. His name was Johnson and he didn’t want me to shorten my son’s name to Johnny which I did anyway. Dad wanted me to call him by his initials. J.W. A lot of people called my dad by his middle name, Hanks, and some called him J.H. That’s how he signed his name. But I stuck with Johnny for my son. Now my son’s a lawyer and a lot of people call him John, but Johnson looks good on his letterhead.

Best of all, my dad was a good father and he loved us. And I wish we could have put some ice in an old gunny sack and mashed it up with a sledge hammer to use with lots of stock salt to make that delicious banana ice cream. The kids always had fun spooning in the salt and taking their turn cranking the handle. When Dad determined the ice cream was hard enough we’d take out the dasher and put the cork in the top before we drained out the salt water on some patch of poison ivy perhaps. Then we’d pack new ice on it, salt it down, and wrap it in a quilt so that after supper we could all enjoy some yummy ice cream. Talk about brain freeze.

So give a dad a hug today and celebrate all the dads you know. I wish I’d hugged my dad’s neck more often while I had the chance.

That’s it for this week. I’ll whine and cry about my computer dying on me yesterday next week. Have a good one.