The Father I Used to Have (and Sea Monkeys)

My dad is Simon Cowell, not really, but that is how I often describe his demeanor.  I get that from him.  It is far less attractive on a woman, I am told. He is part of who made me and I like myself, even if I tend to “talk like a man.”

He is straight forward in business and in raising two girls.  He is Simon Cowel if Simon were raised in the midwest and literally worked his fingers to the bone.  But he isn’t the strong silent type that daughters often describe their dads as.

He is the kind of man that when a microphone needs to be passed to someone who is good with words he can step up and rustle up an instant speech that will make you laugh and cry.

Everyone will be looking at him with a smile, head tilt and with a tear.

My dad in Michigan is a funny mix of sarcasm, tough as nails, strong as an ox and as anal retentive about cleanliness as Monk and with an extra heaping of smart ass.

He never used my expression, “act like a butt and people will think your a butt” but he taught it to me.

He would call you out if you needed it and when I needed a summer job in college I wasn’t sent to the steel mill’s office to file, he sent me out with a blowtorch and steel toe boots to cut samples over the “cooling beds” of red hot rebar.  He sent me to the noisy “shear” to catch samples of steel bars to grind down for seam allowance tests and to the “yard” to find bundles of rebar to cut and bring back on a fork lift to the lab and inspect.

The guys who worked for him for 20 years would say, “He is about the meanest man I have ever met but he knows what he is doing and I respect him.”  They would also say, “Your dad sent little old you to do THIS job?”

I am sure that the 98 pounds of me with three layers of flame retardant clothing, steel toed boots, protective ear gear and face mask had to look a little funny on me.

He also never said another of my favorite phrases but he taught it to me, “for the love of God, I figure if a man can do it, I surely can.”

When family emergencies arise and you have to be in a hospital waiting room you have to find the humor in this 6′ 3″ man who wont touch the arm rests on the chairs.   Yes, he is that “Monk” from the TV show who doesn’t like germs.

When I was a teenager I came home and discovered my shower head was missing from my bathtub.  I went to tell him thinking we’d been robbed of plumbing fixtures.  He informed me I was “grounded from showers” for not “squeeging” the ceramic tile after I showered to keep water spots from forming…INSIDE THE SHOWER.

He is the kind of man that really does sleep three to four hours a night and carries a bottle of bleach around with him in case anything needs a good scrubbing.

This is why this story will never get old to tell. I

may have been eight years-old. My dad had just mowed the yard and he is hot and thirsty.

My sea monkeys that I mailed away for, that took six weeks to arrive because there was not internet ordering back then, were on our kitchen table.

These were going to be my new pets.  I couldn’t be allergic to sea monkeys, right?  They are underwater and they are cute and the cartoons on the box show them smiling and waiting to be my petsll!  

I am going to be the luckiest girl in town with my own little Sea Monkey Circus.

Photo from “the yeti speaks” here.

My dad had just come in from mowing the yard and grabbed the closest glass of water to the door. He began drinking and I began the phenomenon that occurs when you cannot speak because you are so mortified.

I did the action movie arm outstretched with a slow motion face of “AAoooowwwwaaa!!!!” then “Noooooo!…!…!”

He is downing the glass with his eyes closed and enjoying the cool, refreshing glass of water while sweating and visibly tired from yard work. As he opens his eyes and sets the empty glass down I finally reach him and am sobbing while tugging at his arm.

I am looking to be consoled.

He is looking at me like I have gone mad.

I finally am able to inhale enough to exhale a sentence from my hypervenhilating…

“YOU DRANK MY PET SEA MONKEYS!”

His face.

My God…his face.

His eyes were huge and his head led his body into the kitchen sink.

Turning knob for water. 

Face, mouth, and eyes looking up at ceiling, allowing water to run in and out.

Other hand’s desperate blind feel for the little black levered sprayer.

He is now spraying the water directly into his teeth.

I am silent as he begins the rabid gurgling and spitting.

My tears of horror and sadness are now tears of laughter as this grown man is using his fingernails to pick between each and every tooth.

Will telling this story ever get old?

Nope.  

Me laughing 30 years later…

Once, when I was in college, he asked me NOT to park my dirty car, (boyfriend lived on a dirt road) in his driveway.  He owned a couple of car washes and he said it was as if he were a barber and I was walking around town with a bad haircut.  BTW, I never got a free carwash.

He taught me to work, and that too, I am grateful for.

He also taught me to love unconditionally my children, because in the end, he didn’t. In the end, when my mother died and he remarried he decided he wasn’t my father anymore.  He adopted me when I was three, when my mother married him.  He was the only father I knew for 21 years and I have always loved him.

Even with the rift between my dad that has now spanned 18 years I am still grateful for the gifts he gave me that made me who I am.

I am also grateful that I know to tell my boys that I will love them forever and that they will always be my children.

Happy Father’s Day to my husband Jim and thank you for being the best dad to our boys.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there and to both of mine.  Happy Father’s Day to all of the people that don’t have their dads anymore or may have never had one and may you, too, find the blessings of the father figures you have had in your life and be thankful for them.

Abbie,  All that makes you smile, laugh, think, love, cry or cry laughing. allthatmakesyou.com

7 thoughts on “The Father I Used to Have (and Sea Monkeys)

  1. Hi Abbie! Nice to meet you! And thank you for visiting my place at Teachers & Twits today! I cannot believe how much your father sounds like my husbands MOTHER! Wow, is she ever a powerhouse. And the squeegee story! Identical. Grounded for not squeegeeing the shower. I had to break him of that habit when we moved in together. I thought the squeegee was kind of gross. I’m glad you had a wonderful Father’s day with your family, and I’m glad to meet you the morning after! 😉

    • Thanks for coming by and God bless you for being married to the product of an OCD parent. 😉 I have to admit I am a bit disappointed that he doesn’t also have a sea monkey drinking story. That would be AWESOME, (for us and not receptacle for said algae pets.) Hope to see you back by. I enjoyed your site as a fellow “take your own photos for proof” kinda gal!

    • “Something else?” Good Lord. In the past 24 hours I have been called “something else” and “irreverent.” This makes my mind wander back to childhood when a teacher, (especially tumultuous year in my stellar academic career) felt the need to mention I was “transparent” in the report card comments. I have to make some changes FAST..someone might use one of these on my headstone.
      Thanks for the nice words. You can add “doesn’t take compliments well.” 😉

      • Definitely a compliment! “Somethin’ else” goes back to the jazz scene of the ’50s, and was high praise. Not that I was there, of course.

        I saw some very tactful, well-chosen lines on my daughter’s reports cards this year, which was a bit of a hoot.

    • Ohhhhhh….I do to! I had my nieces here this last week and my sister still has a relationship with my dad in Michigan. She even lives with him with her kids and so I love to tell them the story. They think it is pretty funny too! It really makes me smile every time I think of it. So VERY gross!

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