Today, on my Dad’s 65th birthday, I think about the train of memories pulled by him.
When I was a little girl, with a million eye appointments and surgeries, my Dad made what should’ve been a scary experience fun instead. We’d follow up my appointments with slices of pizza the size of my head at Sbarro’s and throw pennies in the fountain at the Town Center Mall.
Decorating the Christmas tree was a really big deal. All five of us kids would trail behind as Dad led the way, circling the tree with garland and lights. We were a happy little train, joyful boxcars following the engine around and around that tree until it was aglow with multi-colored lights and covered with glittery, macaroni ornaments.
I can type fifty zillion words per minute because I learned on a typewriter I bought for three dollars at Goodwill when I was eight. Dad told the cashier that I was the next Ernest Hemingway and that I would write the great American novel on that secondhand typewriter.
He made birthdays a big deal. He took us to the Columbus Zoo and to the movies to see Cinderella and Star Wars and Batman. He spent a bunch of Saturdays at Babcock State Park untangling fishing lines and making us sandwiches from our faithful red cooler. He watched TGIF with us on Friday nights. He took us to church.
My freshman year at Concord, he called my dorm phone and told me he’d found a bridal store in Salem, Virginia that had slashed all their prices in a going-out-of-business sale. He arranged for me to skip classes the next day and meet him there. He cried when I picked out my wedding dress.