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Sharing Memories

Me With DadThe last few years of my father’s life were very difficult.  But they do not remove all of the wonderful, positive memories from earlier in life. From a time before I took over as caregiver, and totally responsible for everything he did or did not do.  I assumed responsibility for dad’s health and his finances.  I spent a lot of time arguing with doctors, and trying different things to help his health.  Because I loved him.

There were many years before that, when we made some wonderful memories together.  Like when I went skeet shooting with him as a teenager each Sunday afternoon.  Or when I used to go fishing with him.  I remember driving halfway across the country in a pickup truck with a dog in the back to go quail hunting.  I distinctly remember the silly dog eating every bird we shot that trip.  We made so many good memories together, and I’m working on keeping those at the forefront of my memory, and of my children’s memories.

  1. I want them to remember what a kind, generous man he was.  How he took care of us in so many ways, and was kind and patient. In that vein, I’ll post memories of him, to celebrate his life.

 

  1. Going diamond mining in Venezuela, but never actually bringing anything home except bug bites.
  2. Travelling to Angel Falls in Venezuela and looking out the windows of the plane, as we flew down into the gorge, and the pilots showed my parents the falls.
  3. Vacationing in Canaima, and having the Macaws come marching down the table picking out what they’d like to have for breakfast.  Of course, nobody actually dared to disagree with the birds for fear of losing a finger.
  4. Going camping in Venezuela, and having to worry about wild Capybara that would wander by.
  5. Going camping for weeks in the Gran Sebana in Venezuela, and living out of the back of our trusty Blue Toyota Land Cruisers.  For some reason, all of the land cruisers were blue.
  6. Convincing my dad that we HAD to move the cat with us, from Venezuela to Brasil, because there were no cats like that cat.  Then having to build a cat carrier out of plywood.  I remember going to the airport and having the woman tell us we couldn’t take the cat with us because we didn’t have the proper paperwork, until the second when my dad pulled out a stack of paperwork about an inch thick, and said “of course we do”.  I think the woman’s eyes bugged out of her head.  I can’t imagine how many hours he must have spent working on moving the stupid cat both to Brasil, and again to the USA a few years later.
  7. Decorating the deer that hung in the living room, and singing songs to “poor Rudolph” each year at Christmas.  My mom liked to hang garlands around its neck, and balls on its antlers.
  8. Going to Macchu Picchu when I was about 10 years old.  I remember seeing an alpaca for the first time, as well as having terrible altitude sickness for the entire time we spent in Cuzco.
  9. Going with my parents to vacation in Manaus, and seeing the Amazon River for the first time.  The size and width of the river is spectacular.  The two rivers swirling together are amazing.  My mom also wanted to bring home a pet Jaguar, which dad talked her out of.
  10. Going fishing with Dad just below Wilson Dam in Florence.  He had more patience with fishing, and I just didn’t.
  11. I remember building a stereo table one year to help out my dad.  I turned out that I was making my own Christmas present.
  12. Going seining for the fish in our tank in the Orinoco River in Venezuela, and in the Ocean in Brazil.  And learning why puffer fish don’t make such great fish in an aquarium.
  13. Learning to shoot a bb gun in Brazil.  We’d set up bottle caps on the retaining wall behind our house, and shoot out the window.  Dad and I spent a lot of time back there practicing.
  14. Going out for a turkey shoot with Dad in Florence, and being the only girl there.  He was so proud of my shooting.
  15. Going skeet shooting with dad, and getting the first several pigeons.  Only to have the guys out there ask me if I didn’t have somewhere else I needed to be- like at a tea party.
  16. Going Dove hunting with dad,  bagging as many birds as he did, AND keeping them from the bird dog.
  17. Learning to drive with my dad.  I have so many memories of learning to drive. He taught me to drive on his old stick-shift truck.  I wasn’t allowed to leave the parking lot or work on any other skills until I had mastered starting, stopping, and doing so on a hill, and shifting out of first gear.
  18. I learned to back up by backing said pickup truck down the driveway, and into the garage- which was a 90 degree turn, and there was less than 3″ of oops factor in backing the truck into the garage.
  19. I remember my dad travelling for business when I was a young teenager- 13, 14, and 15 years old.  Even when I was 16 years old.  He would be gone up to 4 weeks at a time, and since my mom didn’t do things like put gas into the car, I had to do that.  He also taught me to balance the checkbook, pay the mortgage, and pay all of the utilities.  This was before such things as auto-draft, so I had to get it right.  I also cooked dinner every night, and once I was 15, I was able to drive with Mom in the car, so I’d go grocery shopping too.
  20. I remember dad’s 70th Birthday Party.  I decided to throw a blow-out bash, and we took over most of Second Empire Restaurant in Raleigh, with nearly 100 guests.  We bused in most of dad’s friends from the Manor.  Family flew in from all over, and we had a great she-bang.
  21. I contacted many of dad’s friends, and asked them to send memories of him, and we compiled a pile of 70 memories for his 70th Birthday.
  22. We went on a family cruise in 2012, as the first trip that we had taken in a while.  We got most of the family to go, and the first night, we had dinner at the Chef’s table.  Our waiter had a nervous tic and would say “ta-da” whenever he would present a course, so that has become an ingrained part of the culture in the family.
  23. Learning to garden with my dad, and turning the dirt in the strawberry bed in the back yard.  We got the strawberries planted, and got buckets and buckets of strawberries.
  24. Planting day lillies across the back of the property, and I asked dad if there were any snakes.  He said “no”, and replied that I needed to keep planting, since he was digging the holes.  The next wad of dirt I picked up wiggled in my hand.  I looked down- SNAKE- so it got thrown halfway across the town, and I screamed like a little girl.
  25. Dad was always super technical, so he was in charge of the timing equipment at swim meets.  He would make sure that the touch pads, starters, and other equipment worked properly.
  26. Going sailing with my dad in Rio, and learning to sail our little Laser sailboat on weekend mornings.
  27. Going to the beach in Rio, and playing in the waves with Dad. (Also getting very sunburned)
  28. Hunting snakes in the water tanks in Rio.  We had a number of tiny, very venomous snakes that got into our water tanks and were quite a nuisance.
  29. When we got our yard in Florence TP’ed, I wasn’t home, but dad was awoken, so he walked down the hall in his tighty-whities, and stepped out the door with a shotgun, and politely asked the kids to come back and clean up the mess.  They ran like heck.
  30. Learning to smoke beef brisket properly, per dad’s specifications.

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