Happy Hour with Daddy and Momma
I nearly always called my mother on this day, as I knew what his passing meant. Today, I cannot, and I'm saddened by it.
But I am reprinting something I wrote over two years ago on his birthday, entitled Tribute to My Daddy. I will use the original to include some edits to update it. I hope you will appreciate it and keep any of us who have lost both parents in your thoughts.
My daddy would have been 83. He's been gone for 19 years. Damn.
I've been too busy today to think of him until now.
He was known as "Smitty". And he had a bar named Smitty's Lounge and another one later called "It'll Do", very much akin to the DU Lounge; it was more about trivia, bulls**t, and whoever could recall what event.
At Smitty's or It'll Do, not much at night did anyone talk about national politics. They had troubles of their own, and most of his clients were small business owners, contractors, etc. They worried about local issues. At the time, Dems were in the main house in town, and he supported them, albeit not directly. He was opposed to the war in Vietnam and worried about my brother being called up in a lottery if and when he turned 18. Luckily, the draft ended before my brother's birthday. If I recall correctly, my daddy had a very healthy respect for vets, occasionally giving them a drink on the house.
Daddy had the best of humor. Sometimes too cutting and hurting one's feelings at home, but he drew people around in his bar with his humor. Did so too with family when times were bad, especially during the numerous times he was in the hospital. I have noticed that sometimes when I'm blue or mad, but can back away for a moment, I can find a way to express myself humor or be with good biting sarcasm.
Daddy was the guy who noticed current events better than most of us in the family. For example, Jimi Hendrix was supposed to come play a concert in my town. Daddy heard on the radio Hendrix died, and it was the same day Hendrix was found dead, a month before the concert was scheduled.
Daddy always reminded me of the guy in the Welch's"Totally Fruit" commercials who said "Would you please pass the jelly?"; luckily, there were no prissy women or men to faint over such expressions in our house. He was a fried eggs, bacon, and biscuits kind of guy. That's why he died young, but I recall a few months before he passed away, he said he admired Malcolm Forbes (who died the same year, but in Feb) because he had on his tombstone, "He Lived" and did. The reason was that Daddy enjoyed my story of witnessing Malcolm Forbes (yes of Forbes Magazine) on a Harley (dressed in a tuxedo) with a band of Hell's Angels going through Harvard Sq for fun in 1989, and no one in Cambridge, MA complained very much.
Dad left my momma very little, but no one can fault him for living or say he didn't live somewhat a fun life, despite being afflicted with polio at the age of 15.
Could he dance? You bet: in a swivel chair. He had the beat down. He loved C & W, but some rock and roll too. I mentioned his first observations earlier; here is another one related to rock and roll. He was watching cable the night the first MTV video came on. I thought he was crazy when he said he saw videos of the Rolling Stones on tv. Nope, he was right.
Daddy was not always the best dad. Sometimes his fragile ego got in the way of his life with my mom and affected all of us.But I loved my daddy, "Smitty".
So to my Daddy, I tend to take after your good and not so best in different fashions. You taught me that it was OK for the government to give a hand up, which in my case, it did. I was able to go to college on grants and SSDI checks because of your disability. You also taught me that if I wanted anything extra badly enough, I had to go work for it. So I worked on (and sometimes off) through high school and college. And like you, I never had a penchant for very fancy clothes, but I do occasionally try to dress fashionably.
But at times, I am very frustrated with life as you were (and I can be passionate in tone about it), when you kept pushing the boulder uphill, and it came down. It was like being Sisyphus for you; I have never felt I was royalty or had my own queendom. My poor spouse feels that way as he keeps looking for work, getting interviews, and yet, no offers. Where I differ is that at times, I can stretch with my money when economic times are more challenging. May not have much saved, but I can do better than just survive. That's what I learned from Momma.
I will watch our montage of a video we did for Momma's funeral. It's a tribute to Daddy as much it is to her. It contains pictures to "The Wind Beneath Beneath My Wings" and "Let It Be."
While I miss Daddy tonight, alas no longer my momma does. Smitty, here's your beer, the one we put in your casket to go with you. You also drank B & B with Diet Dr. Pepper in the 70's. It was rank to me and most everyone else, but like Gareth who died in "Four Weddings and A Funeral" who attempted making his own recipe Duck a la Banana, you were willing to try own combination of new things too.
And maybe, you're having that drink with Momma while she has her Diet Coke, the one I put in her casket to join you in that happy hour. I'm having that ale next to your lager. Cheers.