Holidays are for remembering

Published 11:12 pm Friday, February 8, 2013

Valentine’s Day is bittersweet for me.

Daddy was born on Valentine’s Day. He died on Father’s Day 1983.

Daddy’s mother, my grandmother, died on Feb. 13, 1965. She was buried on Valentine’s Day – on Daddy’s birthday. So not even all of the Valentine boxes of candy in the world could bring milk chocolate sweetness to that day.

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But memories are the way for us to remember those we love – even if the memories are the dark chocolate kind – the bittersweet kind.

My daddy was king of his castle. Mama made sure of that.

When he was home, he was on his throne – a brown, leather – faux leather – recliner placed ringside of the 24-inch color television that we had begged for five years before Robert Barr shamed him into buying.

Daddy said color television hurt his eyes. Robert Barr said it was the dollar signs that hurt his eyes. Either way, we finally got a color television and that’s where Daddy planted himself every day after he got home from work. And, nobody changed the channel or even thought about it.

Daddy was at the controls and, just as soon as Mama and I got the supper dishes washed and the kitchen cleanup up, the King would call for his pipe and his bowl of ice cream. And, one of us would “oblige” him.

Daddy wasn’t much of a talker so he didn’t have much to say unless as Mama said, nobody wanted to hear it.

And, Daddy wasn’t a hugger or kisser but he showed his love in a lot of ways. He took me on my first hunting trip. I killed a squirrel and then had to dress it and eat it. Daddy said you had to eat what you killed. I cried all the while but he pretended not to notice.

When I had the big red measles, I burned up with fever and begged to stop breathing but Mama said I couldn’t. Daddy brought me a sack of lemon drops and some funny books. I tried to read the one about Bugs Bunny but my head hurt so bad that I couldn’t. I hate that “wabbit” to this day.

Sometimes at night, Daddy would push his chair back from the supper table and tell stories about when he was a pilot in the Air Corps during World War II. My favorite story was about the time he had to put his plane down in the Alaskan backcountry during a snowstorm.

Daddy said an Eskimo man picked him up and took him to his igloo. The custom was for the man of the house to offer guests the warmest sleeping place – either with his wife or his dog. Daddy said he took one look at the wife and decided to sleep with the dog.

Daddy had what Mama called dry wit. To me, he was just down right funny.

Sometimes Mama didn’t think he was so funny.

Every year, he bought Mama a big box of Valentine candy. The kind with a heart-shaped box and a plastic rose on top. Mama wasn’t too fond of Valentine candy because most of it had soft centers and she liked candy with nuts.

Daddy must have noticed the pinched and uneaten candy in the box because one year he had a surprise for her. Just so she wouldn’t have to cook supper on Valentine’s Day, he brought home four frozen Salisbury steak dinners.

Daddy grinned all the way back to the truck to get his usual, a big box of Valentine candy with a plastic rose on top. Mama ate the candy without one single pinch.

Memories are the way to remember those we love.