Dispatches from Home – Father’s Day 2019

For those who knew my father, you know how gregarious he was, never meeting a stranger. Boy! Pop could talk, but only when he had something to say. Otherwise, he was hidden behind the latest issue of the Daily Error, as we old-timers loving call our local fish wrapper. If not reading the paper, he was enjoying a good book, usually one about history. Mom, on the other hand, was busy around the house finding things for Pop to do…much to his chagrin. I always called my father, Pop. I got that moniker from old Charley Chan movies. Charley’s Number One son always called him Pop. My dad was a reader, a thinker, and a talker. But fixing things around the house was not his forte. However, in a pinch, he could rise to the occasion. Many years ago, after Mama and Pop had retired and I was still working, I arrived home for lunch. Mama always fixed a big lunch, of which I was happy to partake. Coming into the house, the smell of fresh baked hoe cakes, turnip greens, and fried chicken caused my taste buds to twitch with anticipation. Alas, little did I know that lunch would become supper. Where’s Pop. I asked? He’s putting a smoke detector in the attic, Mom said. The attic? I walked into the hallway and hollered, Hey Pop…you need any help? A constricted groan was Pop’s only response. I followed his movements in the attic by listening to the creaks of the rafters and his ouches and grunts. From experience, I knew how difficult it was to maneuver in the attic due to the low rafters. Mama suddenly arrived on the scene to supervise. I knew things would go south momentarily. She briskly climbed the ladder, poking her head into the attic. Frank, that’s not where I want that detector. Move it nearer the guest bedroom. Yes, Jackie was Pop’s only remark. I could tell from the sound of the Pop’s head banging against the rafters that his home project was not going well. Frank! Watch where you are stepping! As I stood in our guest bedroom, which is now mine, I heard a cracking sound. Looking up, my face was peppered with drywall dust. Wiping dust from my face, I then saw Pop’s shoe come crashing through the ceiling. Another grunt and a loud groan followed. Frank, you’ve stuck your foot through the roof! You okay? Yes, dear, I’m okay. In the days that followed, Pop got the smoke detector installed and “repaired” the ceiling. And thus, it remains to this good day. While cleaning house, I often look up at Pop’s repair job and smile. It’s just one more thing that makes this old house a home. Happy Father’s Day Pop! You and Mama are now walking on streets of gold. We’ll be together soon. Until then, know that I love and miss you both!