Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Fathers Day, Papa!


Even Miley has a dad.
A fact which may be troubling to Billy Ray.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know Fathers Day is a made-up Hallmark Holiday along the lines of Mothers Day, Valentines Day, and Canadian Thanksgiving-no, wait, that one's legit.  My bad, eh?

  Even so, I enjoy it as a father (yes, I've reproduced.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid).

  What's even more important?  I use it to honor those men I consider my father.  Well, two out of three, anyway.  I can just hear you asking, "Al?  How is it possible that you have more than one father?  And why am I talking to myself in this elevator?  No wonder people are staring."

  Obviously, I have a biological father.  Considering that he taught me little more than how to scratch my back with a fork without Mom knowing and what type of racial epithet is appropriate for a particular ethic group, I'm not planning on giving him a call today.  And not only because died in 2010.

"Spic and Span?
Yeah, that's what Puerto Ricans use to clean their kitchens."

  See what I mean?

  I wonder, though, if Hell has visiting hours?

  I hold my stepfather in high esteem, though.  No doubt you've read about him before in my post, Funerals By George, so I won't go into how he found himself in a house with five kids.

  NOTE: If you haven't read it, I'll probably repost it on his birthday.

  Sadly, the man who taught me how to be a man passed away nearly ten years ago.  Luckily, my children knew him.  He truly was a wonderful person.

  Today, though, I want to pay tribute to the man who taught me how to be a father, and that is Mrs. Penwasser's dad.  I met him thirty years ago and, while I at first thought he was eccentric, I find it fascinating that I'm now doing pretty much the same things he did (especially when it comes to my kids).

   Frankly, if I was him, I'd be laughing my ass off.

"You can say that again!"

  Sadly, he's starting to fade and that makes me profoundly sad.  I also know a time will come when my children will begin to see me fade.  But, that's the way of the world, I suppose.

  To honor him, I'm including a short, true story of when "Papa" hurt himself.  There are a lot of these kind of tales.  The difficulty is picking which one to tell.

  I call it Minty.

    My father-in-law neglected to check the birth date on his driver’s license while on vacation in Maine.

    Frustrated by the monotony of leisurely walks along the beach and the mundane repetitiveness of antique browsing, he thought he’d take a bicycle ride. 

    This was a mistake.

    Sadly, while he may have once been the Schwinn Poster Boy during the Eisenhower administration, poor ole Papa now belonged on a bicycle as much as Madonna at an Amish barn-raising.  

"Because whore."
    Undeterred, the passage of time wasn’t enough to dissuade this geriatric Evel Knievel from saddling up his pedal-powered steed and ambling off down the nearest bike path.

    Unfortunately, the abrupt collision with the ground as he and said steed collapsed like cardboard lawn furniture did.

    Stubbornly insisting he was okay, he tried to dust himself off and once more mount his two-wheeler.  Despite his best efforts, though, he remained under the heap of his bike, a victim of that malady most commonly associated with the senior years-a broken hip.  Or, more specifically, a fractured femur just as it enters the hip bone.

    Needless to say, even Papa couldn’t shrug this episode off with just Tylenol and a nap.  Figuring walking was one of life’s more important skills, he grudgingly consented to a trip to the hospital to get patched up.  A planned lobster dinner would have to wait until next summer.

    The operation went well.  Ever the stoic, he insisted that he only be given a local anesthetic, rather than being knocked completely out.  He figured the surgeon would need him to be awake to monitor the operation’s progress and offer any suggestions.  Plus, Papa never liked to miss an opportunity to chat, never mind that his lower body would be cut open like a flounder at dinnertime.

    Following his surgery, he proudly proclaimed to one and all that his fracture was a clean break.”  I’ve always heard that if you had a broken bone, a clean break was a good thing.  That may be true, but I lump that cheery little aphorism into the same category as “Heat lightning can’t hurt you.” and “Sand Sharks don’t bite.”

    You’ll forgive me if I don’t check to see if either of those breezy little statements is true.

    Anyway, hobbled as he was, Papa became the favorite of the ward.  Never wanting to bother anyone, he took care of himself as best he could.  Shoot, there was a story making its rounds of the floor that he actually helped one of the nurses take his roommate’s stitches out.

    He cheerfully told anyone within earshot tales of his life and relished the opportunity to brag about his family and tease those younger than he that you just “gotta be tough.”

    At the same time, he sheepishly admitted that what he tried to do wasn’t very smart.  He solemnly proclaimed his bike-riding days were at an end.  I suppose the fact that they were actually at an end in the 20th Century never occurred to him.

    Since the staff sincerely appreciated his cheerful attitude, they gradually let him do a lot for himself.  So, it wasn’t unusual that, on the day prior to his discharge, they dropped off a collection of unmarked bottles and a basin of water to help freshen up.

    When asked what all the bottles were for, he was informed they were just basic toiletries.  Since he couldn’t move around to the bathroom, the nurses told him to wash himself in bed.  Granted, it wouldn’t be the same as standing under a hot shower, but it would be far more effective than being hosed down with Febreeze.

    In his typical can-do manner, Papa promised his nurse he’d get right to it and reached over to one of the bottles.  Thus relieved of this particular duty, the nurse pulled his curtain shut to give him a little privacy.

    A half hour later, she returned.  Flinging aside the curtain, she asked Papa if he was done.

    Sure enough, he said, although he didn’t need every bottle she'd brought.

    That was odd, the nurse thought.  She glanced at his bedside table and saw that, next to a damp washcloth, only one of the bottles had been used.  She sniffed the air.

    “Wow, it smells really fresh in here.”  She bent lower toward his bed.  You smell really fresh.  Almost minty.  Wow.”

    “I know, that soap you people gave me was too strong.  Not like I use back home.”

    Momentarily distracted from his breezy dissertation on hometown soaps, the nurse took a glance at the one that was used.  Oh.

    “Is this the bottle you used to wash yourself?”  She held it up.

    He nodded yes.

    A smile curling around her lips, she told him, “That’s your mouthwash.”

    Giving no indication he did anything even remotely embarrassing, my FIL fixed the nurse with an exasperated look.  Very calmly, but with an air that left no doubt who he thought the real simpleton was, he said, “Well, that’s to protect my body from the germs that cause gingivitis.”

   He checked out that day.   


36 comments:

  1. lmao can't let those gingivitis germs run rampant out of the mouth. Sure sounds like a fun guy. I've seen 70 year olds on bicycles that can go faster than I can, no idea how in the heck they do it. I'll stick to driving though, damn being green.

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    1. Prior to a stroke that took quite a bit of wind out of his sails, the dude was like the Energizer Rabbit.

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  2. Funny story, and a loving tribute to someone special in your life. Have a great Father's Day.

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    1. I really have grown to appreciate him more and more as I've gotten older (not that I ever didn't). I see a lot of wisdom in the man.

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    1. Absolutely. And source of a lot of "Papa Tales."

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  4. Your FIL is a top man; I'd imagine there is rarely a dull moment when he is around.

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    1. We've been telling his stories for as long as I've been part of the family.

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  5. OMG-too funny and at least his body was smelling fresh. My hubby had a bad father as well, very bad to say the least so it is wonderful that, despite the genes, you and my hubby turned out pretty good. Just shows what others can do to help out in life. happy Dad's day!

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    1. And 100% true. Very sad about my father. While he was never a prize, he didn't go full-blown mental until he and my mom divorced. He never figured out that divorce is something between a husband and wife. The kids should never be collateral damage. A fool, really.

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  6. Replies
    1. Thank you. It's one of my favorite days when I can honestly say I gave something better than myself to the world.

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  7. And a happy Father's day to him!

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  8. excellent tribute. He sounds like quite a hoot, in a good way. Glad you had a stepfather and a father-in-law that you could respect. That counts for a lot, and I bet your kids feel the same about you.

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    1. Both men gave me a rich trove of memories and wonderful source of stories.

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  9. Oh my gosh- I wonder if it he has the tingly feeling mouthwash gives? What a trooper! So lucky to have a father figure like him in your life. Happy Father's Day!

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    1. "That's a Papa thing."
      EVERYbody in the family knows what that means!

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  10. Ha ha ha! Happy Father's Day, Al.

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    1. Thank you.
      I can only guess the stories my kids will have about me.

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  11. Perfect response to her. You have your FIL's wit and heart.
    Thank you for sharing this story, Al. I hope you were much appreciated by your children today. You deserve to be.

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    1. Awwwwww..thank you. It's truly gratifying to see parts of me in my kids. And even better to see parts of their mother. Then I know they'll be productive members of society.

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  12. What a great post, Al. I have a bio-Dad (checked out when I was one...and I was his FAVORITE) and a step-Dad who adopted me...so, "Dad." God bless men who can assume that role. He wasn't perfect, either, but he was consistent and THERE.

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    1. The man took on five kids and raised us as his own. Yikes. Don't know a lot who would do that.

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  13. What a fantastic story and you are indeed a very lucky man to have had two Dad's to keep an eye on you! Lol. All kidding aside, you're a pretty great guy yourself. Hope you had a nice Father's Day.

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    1. I need somebody to keep an eye on me.

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  14. Sounds like a man with a sense of humour, I wonder why some parts of the world have Father's Day in June and other parts like mine have it in September

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    1. Maybe because it's warmer in September where you are? That is just a guess. I really don't know.

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  15. I'm going to wash my face with mouthwash in honour of your father-in-law. I think he deserves that. I may even scratch my back with a fork in the hope of making an ass laugh its ass off.

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  16. Your father-in-law sounds like a great man with a terrific sense of humor. Actually, he sounds a lot like you, Al. I'm sorry that he hasn't been the same since his stroke. I'd love to hear more stories about him, and your stepdad. Thank goodness you had two wonderful role models, and never lost your sense of humor.

    Julie

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  17. Your father-in-law sounds like a real gem. Sometimes, the very best father figures in our lives aren't our bio fathers at all. With your FIL's sense of humor, it sounds like you're a chip off THAT old block. :)

    I hope you had a super Father's Day.

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  18. I am going to wash myself with mouthwash and see what people have to say. I bet it will be the new trend soon.

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  19. Papa would fit in well with my family.

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  20. I'm back...again! And your blog was the first I looked up because it always makes me laugh. This post was no different. I have a biological father who I haven't seen since he walked me down the aisle 13 years ago and he still lives so that excuse of being in the grave doesn't apply to him. Anyway, your FIL's little mishap reminds me of the time I put Sea Breeze face wash in my mouth thinking it was mouth wash. It was kinda like putting turpentine in my mouth!

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    1. Better than using Preparation H as toothpaste because you were too lazy to turn on the bathroom light.
      This tale, and more, can be found in the "Life of Al Penwasser," a book which hasn't been written yet.
      Oh, that's not a terribly effective sales pitch, is it?

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  21. That's a great story. Happy Father's day to you and yours.

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