Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day Column

  I woke up after midnight last week and I couldn't go back to sleep. I'd been in the middle of a good dream, but once my eyes opened, it vanished like a wisp of breath on a cold morning. 

  I tossed and turned for a while, but my mind kept searching for the dream. I finally got up and headed for the kitchen. Jilda had cooked black-eyed peas, corn on the cob, and cornbread for dinner that evening. 

  I reached for one of our vintage drinking glasses from the cupboard. It's one that Jilda inherited from her mother, and it's heavy enough to use as a weapon. In fact, her mother told her that if I ever got out of line, she could clobber me with one of those glasses, and I'd be drinking through a straw for months. That thought still lingers in the back of my mind. 

  Anyhow, I crumbled up a wedge of cornbread into the glass, and finished filling it with cold buttermilk. I stood there in my PJ's and ate my midnight snack by refrigerator light. I know with the cost of energy I should be more mindful about wasting cold air, but it's a habit I picked up from my dad. He was a "midnight snacker" too. 

  As I've mentioned before, my mama cooked beans for supper every night. Most of the time they were butterbeans, but she did cook pintos, and navy beans too. Dad's favorite midnight snack was cold butterbeans with a thick slice of onion, on two slices of light bread. He'd chase it with buttermilk. He too would snack by the light of the old Frigidaire. 

  As I ate, I tried to think of the earliest memory of my dad. The one that came to mind was when we lived in the old house in Sloss. That must have been before underpinning because the front porch of that old house was about four feet off the ground, but at the back it sat so low that only dogs and small kids could get under there. 

  Dad was looking for the rubber pull-handle that attached to the end of the crank cord on his old Wizard outboard motor. It was springtime and he was getting his boat ready for fishing. The crank cord had broken back in the winter and he decided to wait until spring to fix it. He looked high and low for the handle but it had vanished. 

  I was about 4 years old at the time. I was shoeless, shirtless, and skinny as a kid from a third-world country. When dad described what he was looking for, I knew immediately where it was. I scooted underneath the low part of the house like a chipmunk with an acorn. About midway under the house, the pull handle was lying right next to the clothespin Army men, and the brick road scraper. 

  Apparently one of our hounds had snatched the handle and used it for a chew toy. When I scurried out from under the house with the pull-handle, my dad smiled broadly at me. He reached down, picked me up, and tossed me into the air. I squealed with delight. He patted me on the head and told my Uncle Elmer, "That's my buddy."  I don't know that I've ever felt more proud. I smiled at the memory. 

  I then rinsed my glass out in the sink, closed the fridge, and went back to bed. I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. Sometimes a memory is better than a good dream. Happy Father's Day.


  1. A lovely memory. My father died when I was 3, and I have no memories of him. I wish I did.

    Sleep well!

  2. What a lovely story Jim! Thank you for sharing it with us!

  3. Awww what a sweet memory = and so vivid at 4!! Happy Father's Day! Take care

  4. That was a wonderful memory Rick and I could feel your pride as a young boy. Also reminded me of how much I love Butter Beans!! Hope you had a good Father's Day. Love Di ♥

  5. Fun story. I realize that I am late to the Father's Day party - but what can you expect.

    I'm older, slower and I'm not even a Father.

    good post. Marsha


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