Thursday, April 15, 2010

While Looking at the Lippa Tree ...

My friend ♥Kathy participates in Writer's Workshop most every week.

Mama's Losin' It

This weeks prompts:

1.) Participate in the
Bedtime Theater Contest and write a story for Iggy’s Great Adventure for a chance to win $2500.

2.) Write a letter to a reality star of your choice.

3.) What does that tell you about your father? List five products your father used (or uses). Write a longer piece about, at least, one of them.

4.) What might come from the mouths of babes? Write a humorous piece of fiction where a baby’s first word is a little surprising.

5.) Where was the recipe? Tell the story of a mistake made in the kitchen.

I have chosen number 3.

1) Brylcreem Hair Cream
2) Old Spice Cologne
3) Muriel Air tip Cigars
4) Janitor in a Drum (for cleaning the floor and stuff)
5) Maxwell House Instant Coffee

My beloved daddy smoked for many years. When he was a young man, he smoked cigarettes. He gave them up for a while when I was born. But then several friends had babies... Yep. He smoked those cigars, and for about 18 years after, he was a cigar smoker. His choice was a brand called Muriel Air tips. The tip at the end was supposed to be like a filter, lessening the odds that he'd get cancer.
However, in Hungary he worked in the mines. Here in America, he worked as a machinist for many years with steal. Perhaps if it was ONLY the cigars, and ONLY the ones with air tips, I'd have my daddy here with me today and we'd be mourning the loss of momma together. I am sure her earthly suffering would have been less if he was here...
My Daddy quit smoking two years before he died, when he found it too difficult to both smoke and breathe.
One day about a year before he died my Daddy told me he was proud of me. I was a bit startled. I knew he was proud of me, don't get me wrong, but he didn't say it very often. I can remember him saying it maybe three times before. (Don't feel bad for me. I could see in the way he looked at me he was proud of me. I could hear it when he introduced me to a friend or coworker. I knew.)
We were in the car at the time. He was still trying to teach me how to drive. (Poor man went from the darkest black hair to grey one morning in about half an hour when I was about sixteen and he was trying to teach me to drive. He immediately said I'd have to wait, and wait we did for about five years...) We had parked the car in the Forest Preserve parking lot, and were looking at a lippa tree. He mentioned how they made tea from those flowers back in the "Old Country" and that he always wondered if that was where Lipton Tea got its name. (I don't think so. They use orange pekoe, but I didn't interrupt.)
Then out of the blue he told me he was proud of me. I had no clue how he got from lippa tea to me and my awesomeness... He said he was thinking about how he tore up his knee as a teen because he was trying to light a cigarette while he was riding his bicycle.
I laughed because I tore up my knees in many places without ever trying to light a cigarette.
He smiled and said his point wasn't coordination, but that in spite of the fact that I had so admired him (he knew that I thought of him as second only to God...), I never took up smoking. He was proud of me because even though I tried to do what I thought he'd want or do, I knew where to draw the line.
I confessed to him quite embarrassed that I did try a cigarette once, in order to impress a guy. I didn't like the cigarette, so I never had another. I apologized for disappointing him.
He laughed, and asked me why I thought he tried his first cigarette. He added that he didn't like the first one either, but made a choice that affected his whole life time (I for one had no idea that next year he'd be gone. I have no clue what he knew.) for foolish reasons. He was still proud of me for not being a follower in that respect.
What did this teach me about my dad? It took humility for him to have this conversation with me. My dad was all about showing his strength, never his weakness. He had this conversation with me, I think, to give me permission to do what I thought was best for me, and not try to follow him or anyone else. I think he was telling me he had confidence in me to make good choices. He loved me enough to step down from being my hero, and tell me he thought I had good judgement.
Paradoxically, I see him as all the greater for that.


♥ Kathy said...

That was just awesome Helen! I know he's looking down and beaming with pride at the woman you've become ♥

Wendy said...

That's a really sweet story, Helen! I'm glad he shared that with you. :o)

Chris Sullivan said...

Love the story. Hope I can have a conversation like that with my dad one day.

Ginny (MAD21) said...

I love this. It just shows us how important it is to tell those we love that we are proud of them and love them more often.

katdish said...

I love reading about your special relationship with your dad. I wish all children had fathers they could look up to like that.