They were a handsome couple; the butchers son, the Catholic, the Democrat who married his high school sweetheart. Mom was the bankers daughter, the Presbyterian, the Republican. My brother and I, both adopted, are definitely products of a mixed marriage. And what a marriage it was. I have never know a couple more devoted to one another nor better matched. Mom outlived him by eighteen years. She was courted, a lot, but no one could live up to what he had been.
Dad. An engineer, he could build anything. A doll house for me from scratch. There were no kits in those days. It even had a table that served as the yard complete with lawn and flower beds. A basement beneath it. And, as houses in those days were, a detached garage. Completely furnished including the car. My Christmas present.
When I was older he built me a play house. Ten by twelve with an eight foot ceiling. It was like a real one room house. He furnished it with a table, chairs made from barrels and we moved cots in so I could have my slumber parties there.
He loved to work in the yard. We had the best victory garden on the street. He presided over the men's civic club and was a scout leader. All this combined with a large chunk of time on the road. Such was the nature of his work. Back in the days of trains.
Yet he was always there. For everything important. He was our strength and our moral compass.
He introduced me to the grown up world of fine wine and dining and theater and art, this son of a butcher. When money was tight he bailed me out. When I'd have questions about anything we'd philosophize.
That last visit summed up what he meant to me. We had taken a day trip to Solvang, a fair distance from our home in Simi Valley. The weather turned nasty. Heavy rains and wind and darkness fell. I was driving, tired and tense. He talked to me. Quietly. Steadily. He kept me calm and awake. When we finally got home he fixed the cocktails while telling me to relax and what a great job of driving I had done. He was the one, though, with the keen insight and steady hand. His was on the wheel as well as my own. I could sense it.
I think of the poem Footprints in the Sand by Mary Stevenson where she is having a conversation with God and asks
"...But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have been only one set of footprints in the sand."That's what my Dad was - and is - to me. I've neither my Dad nor my Mom now except in memories and all that was a part them that is now instilled in the very fiber of my being. What's good about that is they're where they belong. Together.
to which He replied ..."The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, is when I carried you."