Sued51's Blog











{February 22, 2010}   My Father My Hero

Today is my father’s 84th birthday.  He was telling me how he sets short goals for “still being around”.  Now that he has made it to his birthday, he’ll be looking forward to making it to Father’s Day.  I decided in honor of his birthday to post an essay that I wrote and submitted to an essay book about fathers and daughters.  It wasn’t accepted, but I’m glad I wrote it.

Ready to march in the Memorial Day parade

My Father, My Hero

My father told me when I was born, he went house-to-house, knocking on doors proclaiming, “I have a girl!” Four boys were born before me; my parents tried again after I was born, and I had two more brothers and no sisters.

I have been known to say as an adult that I am my father’s favorite son. I share his interest in gardening, animals, watching baseball, and history. When I was a child, I would follow him around his vegetable garden, watching how he tended his plants, amazed that they produced food. Later he would find me and my friend sitting in the dirt between the rows, devouring his snow peas, pods and all. He said, “Get outta there!”, but I also saw him smile. To this day, none of my brothers garden; I have gone from only growing vegetables, to being interested in herbs and flowers.

Another experience my father and I shared, was marching in the Memorial Day parades in our town: there were five of them, one for each graveyard, every hour on the hour starting at 8:00 am. My father was a proud veteran; I was in the junior auxiliary. My mother would make us a big breakfast and we would set off; he in his uniform, and me in my junior auxiliary hat and cape. My brothers attended later with my mother to watch us march in the final parade at noon. I marched proudly, waving my miniature flag, feeling proud to be an American and proud of the veterans like my father. I still buy a poppy every Memorial Day.

My mother was partial to dogs; my father loved all animals; I don’t think there was a moment in my childhood when we didn’t have a pet, or my father wasn’t trying to save a baby bird or stray animal. When a stray cat showed up at our door one November, my mother said, “We’re not keeping it.” My father and I secretly fed it and kept in the back porch as we moved farther into winter, until my mother realized she was beaten, and said she could stay. We smiled at each other knowingly. Only one of my brothers has a pet; I can’t live without one.

I remember my father calling me to sit down and watch Armstrong walk on the moon. I remember his excitement when he said to me, “You’re watching history!” Talk about history…when the Red Sox made it to the World Series in 1975; I sent away for two tickets through the mail and miraculously received two tickets for Game 2. I could have taken any of my friends–everyone was dying to go, but I took my father. We huddled under an umbrella in the rain at the top of the bleachers, and my father said, “I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime.” The Red Sox lost the game, but my father stayed in a good mood, happy that we could share this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

So what did all this mean as I grew up; how did it affect my relationship to the men in my life? I always expected them to appreciate my mind. It didn’t occur to me that they were interested in my looks; I didn’t spend a lot of time painting my fingernails or dressing in the latest fashion. I felt more comfortable talking to men than women. Some people might be tempted to dismiss me as a tomboy because I grew up with so many brothers and without any sisters, but that would be simplifying things. My interests were my father’s, not my brother’s. As an older sister, I took my younger brothers to baseball games and the movies. My mother told me my youngest brother bragged about his big sister; I recently bumped into a friend of his who remembered me taking them to a baseball game. It would be easy to think growing up with so many brothers was the reason for my tendency to have male friends in my late twenties and early thirties, and to feel less comfortable with women than with men. I spent many a lunch hour being the only woman playing cribbage with the male engineers I worked with; my grandfather taught me to play when I was a child. My grandmother tried to teach me to knit, but I had no patience for it.

Also, these anecdotes may lead one to believe I’m not close to my mother, which is not true. My mother is one of my best friends; we talk at least once a week. As I’ve grown older I’ve found her in me more and more, in our love of food and crafts (I actually love to crochet now), and in something as simple as people telling me our voices sound the same on the telephone. My mother has been there for me through broken relationships and to talk me through all the disappointments in my life, (especially in my early twenties when I was clueless that guys might just want my body).

And yet…when I was a child and would sometimes get up in middle of the night panicking because I was having trouble breathing, it was my father who would get out of bed and turn on the shower, put me in the steam and calm me down. Later when I had a corneal ulcer in my eye, it was my father who got up every hour to put eye drops in it, until we found out the next day it wasn’t bacterial. My father was, and still is, at 83, my hero.

A fortune teller once told me that the man I would marry would come at an unexpected time; he would ride up on a white horse like a hero. I was 34 when I met my husband, thinking at that point that I might never marry. Since the beginning of our relationship I have teased my husband, when he helps me with something mechanical or technological saying, “You’re my hero.” When the time came to choose someone to marry; I chose someone with a sense of humor like my father. We share a love of watching baseball, history, and music. We adore our twenty-year old cat; and he adores my father. He told me recently, “I aspire to be like your father; he is my hero.” It can’t get more perfect than that.

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Alyssa Merrifield says:

Hey Susan, It;s Alyssa. Eric just forwarded this to me. I had tears reading it. So sweet and so special. Earl must have loved this. He also passed on his skill of writing to you. You are a great writer! Hope all is well. Miss you!

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[…] three-day weekend after a long winter (in the North), or simply a chance for a short vacation. I’ve previously written about my memories of Memorial Day as a child, my enjoyment of the para…, so this change is not a welcome one to […]

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[…] showed up one cold November morning and after some manipulation on the part of my brother and I, in cahoots with my father, became part of the […]

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