Every time I see your face, it reminds me of the places we used to go.
But all I got is a photograph and I realize you're not coming back anymore.
-Ringo Starr and George Harrison
It's ironic, maybe even a little bit tragic, that most of my fondest memories of my father are when I was very young. At that age, I was my Dad's pride and joy. I remember him carrying me upside down over his shoulders, calling me his "sack of potatoes". I remember him taking me to all sorts of places, my favorite being Santa's Village, a now closed amusement park in the San Bernardino mountains. I remember him taking a lot of interest in me, what I thought, and what I did.
I was recently listening to a Frank Sinatra CD I had given him years ago and I remembered something I hadn't thought about in many, many years;
I was 4 years old and in nursery school. I remember some kid calling another kid "stupid". That night, I mentioned it to my dad. He told me that calling someone "stupid" was a terrible thing to do and he never wanted to hear me ever do that. So, as a young impressionable kid, I had my first "forbidden" word. Of course, it didn't take me long to use it against my mother, which of course, resulted in a not too pleasant punishment. Some time shortly after that, I was with my Dad in the car. He had the radio set to his favorite radio station - KGIL 1260 AM. I heard a song I had never heard before, it was Frank Sinatra and he was singing a song that had the word "stupid" in it. I misheard the lyrics and thought the song went like this:
...And then I go and spoil it all by saying that you're stupid when I love you.
I thought this song was hysterically funny. My dad was amused that I found this song so amusing. For a while, whenever that song came on, my dad would point it out and say something like "they're playing your song". Finally, he bought the album. I remember him showing it to me in the store pointing out that Something Stupid was there.
As I grew older, it got harder and harder to amuse or please my father. He grew cynical and very critical of everything I did or said. We grew farther and farther apart and the older I got, the more I felt I had disappointed him. As an adult, I rarely spoke to him knowing that anything I said could spark his fury.
As he aged into his late 70's and early 80's, he got sick and became feeble. In the past few years, he wasn't the man I had known all my life. In many ways, I lost my father before March 15th this year. I refuse to remember him as the helpless old man he had become. Instead, I'll remember him as the stern, unyielding, son of a bitch that I both hated and loved.
And Dad, as you left this world and went on to the next, I hope that even though we rarely said anything pleasant to each other, that you felt you raised a son who is at least, somewhat worthy of your expectations.