Knot again


Father’s Day is upon us again, and my husband and I have none. Our dads are gone, but not forgotten.

After my father entered the front gate of heaven, like my mother 21 months before him, we siblings and spouses joined in endeavor to clear the house where my parents had grown old, a noble ramshackle of family-building, then retirement, the only house they’d ever owned.

My parents were savers, not due to deprivations of the Great Depression, but of World War Two rationing. Marriage in the ’50s when Father Knows Best and Mother is not allowed to work. 

Back to Carmel, Indiana, 2008. Imagine our surprise, as we searched the shed, garage, pantry, kitchen cupboards, the nooks and crannies of the two-story house. We found hundreds of glass jars, labels removed, in rows of ready soldiers for canning green beans, peaches, and such – a chore my mother had not tackled for years. There were dozens of toilet seats, salvaged by Dad from nearby construction site dumpsters, for Carmel developed fast. Lots of wood, some good, some very cherry.

Sadly, there were big jars of supplements and medications no longer needed for health – and there was more and more and more. We stuffed many dumpsters, boxes, and crates, rooms of others’ homes, with the large and small of my parents’ lives, and those of our ancestors before. We saved much, as well: our memories, heritage treasures, our orphan selves.

Imagine when we opened the closet doors and saw over 100 ties hung in rows doubled over…and each of us recognized every tie that we’d ever given my dad on Fatther’s Day…perhaps never worn. Jovially accepted, then hung – to heart’s content. Perhaps he considered them to be his ribbons for ‘win-place-and-show’.

Pride of place was reserved for a bold yellow paper tie front printed with “I lost my tie at a necktie party at Trabuco Oaks”. The paper tie had replaced the one my dad wore, to ‘the fanciest restaurant in Orange County’ at our suggestion, and had it clipped off. We visited Trabuco Oaks recently, but couldn’t begin to find that special tie stapled aloft. There were thousands of trophies there, shrouded in dust.

Anyone ever been to Trabuco Oaks near Lake Forest, California or Pinnacle Peaks near Phoenix, Arizona where a boot is served if you order steak well-done? We did twice with my father. The memory of his widened eyes and guffaw of appreciation swells my heart – we ‘got’ the practical joker. We got him good…we had him. He was a good dad.