People say I look like him. Some tell me he is the one from which I inherited my humor. “Delmer? He’s sure a great guy,” others say.
To me, he is Dad.
He is the one, to my mom’s disgust and perhaps a bit of jealousy, I wanted to hang out with in the yard. I wanted to be the one to hand him the flat-headed screwdriver. Or was it the pointy-head screwdriver? No? Those aren’t the correct names? He was the first man in my life to give up calling them the proper name and began calling them by my proper terms.
He is the one who sat still, watching T.V., while I brushed, and brushed, and brushed his hair. I may or may not have (okay fine, I did) gotten creative by adding a few of my hairclips to his thick, black-at-the-time, hair.
He is the one who taught me how a man lathers up shaving soap in a shaving mug with the brush, slathering it on his face all the while making strange faces as I watched. The one who tied his necktie on Sunday mornings while I became mesmerized by the twisting and looping until a knot magically appeared.
His is the lap on which I sat on during the church service as we played silent hand games of covering one hand over another. And let’s not forget the old classic game of trying to capture my thumb with his as we both twirled and twiddled our thumbs together. His was the suit pocket that contained toothpicks in a semi-clear plastic container which entertained me with the faint noise of packed toothpicks jiggling against the plastic. He is the one I witnessed reading the Bible and answering my questions of religion.
He was the one who let mom be the disciplinarian, making it a shock when he raised his voice and swatted my leg. Somehow, that hurt worse than anything mom used as a form of discipline.
The one who helped family financially and through service. He is the one who took his family to visit “Ma and Pa” quite often in the white, four-door family car. And the one who allowed me to dip my cookie in his coffee at Grandpa and Grandma’s house.
He is the one who taught me to work in the chicken coops getting ready for the chicks; allowing me to roll the huge roll of paper across the wire floor so the chicks wouldn’t fall through, folding boxes to put the chicks inside until they were able to crawl over the side, how to fill the water jars, screw on the caps, hold on to said caps and quickly flip them over without spilling the whole jar. Scooping the feed and leveling it out just right while walking on the wood slats, not the wire, of the floor without spilling the feed was his goal for me, yet, didn’t yell too much when some of the feed dropped to the cement floor below.
He is quick to laugh, and quick to smile. He is the one who gives nurses and wait staff a “hard time”. Somehow those on the receiving end become the ones smiling and giving the sass right back. He is the one who was scolded by my mom with the power of one word, “Delmer.” His body would shake with silent laughter or simply smile as he looked away after the scolding.
He is the one who was strong, at least in front of my brother and I, as the three of us came to the conclusion to let mom go when a decision had to be made after the day she lay dying in the hospital after surgery the day before. He was the one who I saw cry for perhaps the first time in my life as we looked at mom’s face for the final time before the casket was closed, squared his shoulders and walked out of the room as we followed.
He is the white-hair ninety-one-year-old still full of spunk man. He is a ninety-one-year-old with good days and bad days who told me on a particularly long stretch of illness, “Don’t get old.” To which I replied, “Why didn’t you tell me when I was twenty?”
Is this man I call dad perfect? Pfft, far from it just like every human on the planet. He is stubborn, impatient, grumpy when waiting in a doctor’s waiting room. Yet, he is kind and generous, and supportive to those near and afar.
He is my dad, the first man to love me and the first man I loved. Happy Father’s Day.