Sunday, April 6, 2008

A String of Pearls

Without music, life would be a mistake
Friedrich Nietzsche

Right before my birthday, my baby brother came by to watch John Adams and enjoy a belated St. Patrick's day dinner with us. While he was here, there was an inexplicable accident when his flash drive fell onto my laptop and transferred some of his music into my i-tunes. Well it can't be helped now. Sometime later, I perused the list of music that mysteriously appeared. It was some of the "old" music there that brought a tear to my eye. This is music my father taught us all to love. These songs made up the fabric of our lives growing up with my Dad. Suddenly, I was missing him something fierce and I know that by finding this song in my new i tunes list, my brother was too. Today was my Dad's birthday and I want to thank him.

My father taught me many things in life. I think my stubbornness in part came from him. I can stick to something and see it through. One of his favorite sayings was "let's throw some shit on the wall and see how much sticks." I still ponder this saying frequently. What the hell does that mean? Whatever it is, I'm unafraid to think outside the box. He was an accomplished philosopher and by default, I like to think I am too. If I live to be 81 like him, maybe I'll understand his saying. I hope so. It gives me something to look forward to.

My father taught me to cherish and nurture friendships. He was an avid "golfer". Going golfing was a euphemism for hanging out with friends. He played cards weekly with his pals right after he duffed his way around the golf course. He continued this well into his 7th decade of life. He always had plans and those plans always included his friends, a cigar, a deck of cards and sometimes a little Glenfiddich Reserve. The lesson learned here is that friends are the family we choose; he chose well. At Dad's funeral, his children made sure he had a few cigars and a deck of cards in his pocket. We kept the scotch. Dad didn't raise fools.

My father taught me many things in respect to food. Number one is I am not a picky eater (none of us are). We enjoyed a variety of food growing up and we always had it in abundance. He also liked his food BIG. Now, I don't really need a huge amount of food nor huge food. This always impressed my Dad. He liked to talk about his last meal while he was eating his current meal and reflecting on his next meal. Being a product of the depression, I can see where his worry of food came from. Lots of people of this era discuss food all the time. My favorite cookbook is the one my Dad gave me and inscribed. It is an Arabic cookbook-and this is our heritage. It's dog-eared, well loved and used often. I don't lend it out. Another thing I learned from him is to always thank whoever prepared the food with the ultimate compliment: "that was utterly delicious."

I got my love of reading from my father; all four of his children are avid readers. I treasure the ability of getting absorbed in books. My Dad taught me how to tune out the soundtrack of everyday life and get lost in an author's world. He was so adept at this that the house could burn down around him and unless the flames licked at his lazy boy chair, he wouldn't notice. I have inherited this trait. In my house, it's a gift. It was a sad day when Dad lost his eyesight from macular degeneration and couldn't see to read anymore. Books on tape just aren't the same as the thrill of a page-turner in your hands. The written word is a powerful thing.

My Dad adored movies. All movies. Sad ones (he would cry each time he watched Heidi). Funny ones (he loved to laugh). Movies with intrigue were a close second only to spy novels. He loved historic epics. It didn't matter if movies were old or new although when he passed, we did have an extraordinary collection of World War II era movies we inherited. John Wayne seems to have been a favorite followed closely by anything with Humphrey Bogart. When I was young, he used to call me Sarah Bernhardt. Being young, I didn't know that he meant that I was overly dramatic. I've always loved the name Sarah. Guess what I named my first born? Yep. No h.

Music was an everyday part of my life growing up. The house was filled with my Dad's music all the time. And dance? When my parents danced it was like watching Ginger Rodgers and Fred Astaire. I always thought it was so romantic. When we went to parties that included dancing, my Mom and Dad drew an audience. When I was young, they threw parties at the house. The basement would be cleared out to make room for a dance floor. I used to sneak down the steps to watch. I was enchanted. Heck, my parents met right after the war in a ballroom. They were married a few months later and made it more than half a century together.

I love this gift my Dad (and Mom) gave me too. This love of all music but especially the music of their generation. There is a romance to their genre of music that others lack. So when I came upon this song in my i-tunes, put there by my brother, I immediately remembered the lyrics. Yes, I can sing along to the Mill's Brothers. I know the lyrics to all their songs. I'm sure my Dad wouldn't mind that this song is put to this montage. He'd be able to tell you each and every movie clip used-as he sang the lyrics to this song. I'm sure when they read this post, my sister and brothers will be singing along too. The songs in today's playlist were some of my dad's favorites. Mine too.

Happy Birthday Dad, I miss you.


Anonymous said...

I was invited out for one of these so called call golf matches. Lets be truthful, these matches were set ups for the Gin Game. After taking 4 dollars from dad and his buddy Sam Z. We went into the clubhouse. Out of the locker room emerged Dad with a pocketful of cigars and several decks of cards.. Hollywood 3 and 7 these two bellowed. For the next 45 minutes I heard the famous Freddy Shtick" I'd like you on a slow boat to China" Or whadda they make in tubs". I didn't win one hand in this 45 minute sham.

As I was leaving, $42.00 lighter Dad said let me walk you to the door. "Didn't hurt you to bad did I son....No dad lesson well taught...They make gin in tubs don't they?

A few chuckles later, he was off to find another game.

Miss you Dad....Happy Birthday


laurie said...

wow, this is astounding.

my dad, who also instilled in me a love of reading, would have been 82 today, were he still alive.

i was just about to post a "happy birthday i miss you" when i stumbled across yours (from WT's site).

i'm sorry for your loss.

Rudee said...

Oh FTM, sometimes you just make me cry when you talk like this. When I look at you, I see dad. I'm glad you have these sweet memories. He was a great guy.

Rudee said...

Hi Laurie and welcome. Happy Birthday to your dad and I'm so very sorry for your loss too. My dad would have been 88 today. He was a post war baby :-).

Anonymous said...

The Cigar had many functions in Dad's life.
1. It relieved the tensions of everyday life.
2. It was radar on a golf course. He made more putts with that cigar in mouth...
3. It was mosquito repellent
4. Helped provide him answers to Crosswords.
5. People Repellent:
Picture a busy craps table in Vegas and Dad wanting to teach his boys how to play craps...Unwrap the cigar; light it.......Boys there is only one spot...Give me a minute..He walks up to table puffing and blowing smoke.
Soon as he hit the table. Two people cashed out, one on either side.

Rudee said...

Damn but those cigars were incredibly obnoxious. He loved him a cigar though. I should post the picture of all of us smoking one at their 50th.

Anonymous said...

One more dad gin story for you. As mentioned in the post. Dad was losing his vision. It was in April around his birthday a couple of months before he passed. Yes, he wanted to play and David and I wanted to take his money(that $42.00 still stuck in my crawl) Well about half way through the game. He wasn't on the board and couldn't catch a card. As if on cue, Mom said how does it feel taking money from a blind man...
She no sooner said that, when the master made his move. 15 minutes later, David and I were reaching in our wallets pulling out three dollars. I still can hear:" I still got it. what,You think your playing with kids? You played that like a shoe Clerk....What do they make in tubs"

Rudee said...

I seem to remember you boys both gave as good as ya got in the lip department. You just didn't win very often. I'm sure you enjoyed giving it back out on the course.

dgmlsmith said...

Thanks for all the memories.

The saying about the shit was " If you throw enough shit on the ceiling, some it is bound stick". He used that phrase to encourage persistence. It was his way of saying "hang in there and keep going". I must admit that I still recall the advice whenever I need it. Now why anyone would want shit on their ceiling is another question we may want to ponder.

Love you and miss. The yard is all cleaned up in VA and waiting for you.


ExpatKat said...

Wonderful tribute. Super to be loved and remembered like that.

Rudee said...

Thanks Expatkat. He was a great dad! We were blessed.

Hey Mareseatoats. I hope to be heading to your home in the mountains later this month. I will go to blog my little heart out and take many pics. I'm glad there won't be yardwork though I do like driving that Gater around your property. I'm sure I'll find plenty the gardener left undone. Thanks..... I miss and love you too.