I think of many things on Father’s Day.
I think of omelets because my dad was great at making them. If my mother ever asked him to, say, bake a potato, I’m sure he would have panicked. But he made beautiful omelets. Fluffy and perfect with whatever you could dream of to go inside, providing we had it in the refrigerator.
My dad was big on breakfast. All of us would sit queasy and silent on dark winter mornings, waiting for the obscenely early school bus while he ladled heaping bowls of steaming cream of wheat before us, pretending he didn’t hear the gagging sounds that followed and insisting we eat.
I think about how he worried. And if any world event had any remote chance of adversely affecting his family, he worried more. If there was a recall, the item must be destroyed. “But dad, our babyseat is a different brand than is being recalled. And it’s only being recalled in India.”
Things did not always make sense where it concerned my dad.
I think about how he loved sports, worshipped the Bears, admired pro golf, enjoyed baseball, liked to swim, even coached Little League. But he couldn’t play a game of catch without breaking his glasses.
I think of how he seemed strong and unafraid but could cry at a particularly tender episode of “Little House on the Prairie.”
“You’re crying?” my mom would say.
“Jack the dog died,” my father would explain, wiping his eyes.
He was smart but sure you caught pneumonia from wet hair.
He was stubborn and had a temper, but hated for anyone to stay mad at him and was the most affectionate man I ever knew.
He could also soothe any crying baby handed to him. Didn’t have to know the baby, baby didn’t have to know him, but once in his arms that baby would stop crying, look deep into my father’s eyes and fall asleep within a minute. Every time.
My dad loved a good bowl of soup, had to be mad hot; a good hot dog with mustard and onion (“even though it doesn’t like me,” he would lament); vanilla milkshakes and vanilla ice cream, even at “31 Flavors.”
“Again with the vanilla?” my mother would say. “It’s french vanilla,” my dad would reply, mushing it into soup.
He wore the same style slippers and pajamas, and went to the same barber shop, drug store, dry cleaners and bank for close to 50 years – and at the exact same time each week. He lived on Maalox (see hot dog reference) and never had a good night’s sleep in his life.
“So how come I could hear you snoring?” my mom would say.
We teased him that he had no sense of humor, but he knew how to laugh and how to take a joke.
He never actually fixed anything that I’m aware of, but he loved his tools.
He couldn’t change the oil in his car but he loved his garage and nobody ‘s was cleaner (painted the floor of the garage, too, though no one could figure out why). He couldn’t barbecue either, but loved his lawn and his flower and vegetable gardens.
He was far from a neat freak but once every month or so, also for reasons unknown, he used an industrial buffer on the linoleum.
He could be tight with the buck but he was generous to a fault.
He would go anywhere, at any time and any distance for his children, including driving eight hours to pick me up from college and take me home, two round trips in one weekend, because I was homesick.
He was loyal and honest and adored his family. And no one will ever worry about us like he did.
He was a good father.
And I still can’t ruin an omelet without missing him terribly.