photo by Sheri Dixon

Sunday, June 19, 2011

To Charles and Chuck and Norman and Ward...

My dad would be the first to say he wasn't a good one. He'd be dead wrong, but he'd be the first (and only one) to say it.

I think dad just didn't "get" kids. He's quiet and serious and shy, but also hysterical if you pay attention- his humor is very subtle but genius. MOM was the outgoing, social, take us places, do stuff with us, ruler of the household and enforcer of punishments. Seemed she was always hollering at us for something or threatening us with something and mostly it sounded to us like those old Charlie Brown cartoons where every adult voice is played by a muted trombone.

Dad is a professional photographer- a truly gifted news photographer who was wooed by every big paper from Milwaukee to Miami, but he declined them all- kept us in our home town because he believed it was the best thing for his family.

Dad never raised his voice or his hand- I remember ONCE being spanked by my dad. Three quick swats. I was about five years old and don't even remember the transgression but I'm pretty damn sure I never did it again.

*In retrospect I suspect it was either dumping my baby brother face down on the floor whilst he was still strapped into his infant seat on the sofa or sticking his tiny finger into the wall socket- after that I sorta gave up and accepted that he was gonna be a permanent addition to the family.*

Dad taught me to do the right thing even when it's not what you yourself want to do, and to care for your family even when they make you crazy... ESPECIALLY when they make you crazy.

Oddly enough (or maybe not at all) Ward shares some of the same traits as my dad- quiet, shy, subtle brilliant humor, crazy smart and courage far surpassing anything in the mortal world. He's never treated Alec like a baby or a child- always as another human, another thinking cognizant human and always with respect. He'll be the first to say he's not a good dad- he's dead wrong, and the only one to say it, but he fears it all the same.

Every single day Ward shows me by example- patience, graciousness, strength, love. And every day I absorb it all, but I'm afraid I give just a fraction back. Every morning I get up at 7am promising the Universe that I'll be patient and kind and calm and by 9am the Universe is very disappointed.

My grandfather on my dad's side was quick to tell me he was a terrible father, and he was right, quite honestly. He made some bad calls in life and he told me more than once that it always surprised him that my dad didn't end up in prison with the role model he had. By the time I came along, Grandpa Chuck was pretty leveled out and upstanding- had been married to the same wonderful woman many many years- his 5th wife Eloise who was quiet and elegant and a mechanical engineer- the first woman to attain that degree in Ohio- and he was her biggest fan- would take out drawings she'd done and pour over them amazed at the detail (which was amazing- all that was before computers and software and done by hand).

He was finally stable financially, and emotionally, and I absolutely adored him. He taught me to cook and play cribbage and place a bet at the horse track.

My grandfather on my mom's side was more like dad...and Ward. Grandpa Norman was quiet and stayed pretty much to himself- at their house he had a workshop in the basement he spent hours in- I don't even remember anything he did in it, but I do remember the photo on the wall above his workbench- a photo of himself and his 2 brothers all in uniform for WWII. They all came back- Norman and Carl to normal lives with normal jobs and families and Earl crawled into a bottle and stayed there.

Grandpa Norman's wife, Grandma Ellen, was a bundle of energy, always busy with something or other and always fretting about something or someone. Norman just tried to stay out of her way. Norman never had to wonder if he was a good dad, Ellen kept him pretty up to date on all his earthly transgressions as she saw them.

They had a cabin "up north" they went to every weekend and Norman fished. Every day. All day. He taught me to fish, and how to deal with difficult people, and to pay attention to details and numbers- he was a retired comptroller.

Happy Father's Day Dad, Grandpa Chuck, Grandpa Norman, Ward.

Ya'll made being a daughter, granddaughter, wife and mother so very easy.

Grandpa Norman and me...round about 1963.


  1. what a fantastic photo...and a wonderful tribute to all the dads in your life. *I wish someone, somewhere would have taught me how to deal with difficult people.* Hope you all had a nice day...take care..;j

  2. Well, mostly he taught me to remain calm even when they're jumping up and down and squawking, validate what they're saying, then quietly carry on as you were going to anyway LOL