Thursday, August 12, 2010


While walking my dog Albert yesterday, oh, maybe a mile or two from my house, a little boy came running down the sidewalk, arms stretched wide.

“Doggy, doggy, doggy!”

The father raced after his kid and swept him up in a protective hug. A death grip, really.

“My dog is friendly; your son can pet him,” I said.

“Oh no,” he laughed nervously and squished the kid to his chest. “I’ve heard horror stories; what happens when a child pulls a dog’s ear or the tail.”

And Albert gave one of his many horrifying faces where his eyes cross and his tongue lolls, like he’s one whisky shy of a coma.

“OK, then. Have a nice evening.”

Oh, I’m so glad I didn’t have a father like that. Don’t give your kid the gift of fear. Over the deadly sins, fear should reign supreme. It can eat gluttony for dinner and still have room for vanity and lust.

My dad passed me many crosses, including a bad temper, impatience, and the ability to make a really vile pot of coffee. But whatever my fears, they did not come from him.

Today is the anniversary of his death. Or maybe it’s tomorrow – neither of us were any good with dates. I swear he never knew my birthday.

But he got lots of the important things right.

And he was a looker, wasn’t he? I always thought so.


  1. Oh, a lovely tribute, and an honest one at that. I love how you recognize the good and the ugly - and cherish the right stuff. Thank you for reminding us that we can do the same!

  2. Your Dad was a very handsome man and, it sounds like he was also wise. My Dad did pass several of his fears on to me. Even though I've been able to unmask many of them, they still hold a great deal of power over me. It truly is a curse.

    May this day be filled with peace, contentment and love.


  3. A very nice tribute to a good dad.
    great post...

  4. Your dad did a lot of things right, to deserve a tribute like that. I don't believe parents who simultaneously smother their children with fear of such things as dogs, then give them cell phones so they can communicate with the rest of the world without parental knowledge. Lack of parental knowledge creates much greater problems than dogs ever do. Give your dog a hug as you remember your handsome dad with joy.

  5. Lake father, like daughter, AH!!! You are definitely a tribute to your father!!! And you look like him too!!!

  6. Nice tribute. Logical that he would be a looker. We'll talk about fear another time.

  7. I have to say that fear may not be a gift, it may be something that rushes in to fill a void as some fathers are more generous than others when giving gifts to their daughters and sons. It sounds like your dad gave you a generous mix.

  8. poor Albert! I'm happy when parents actually teach their children to have SOME caution. Running up to a pit bull and yanking an ear or surprising them isn't advised, nor is that the case with many dogs (and a host of cats). Tho, any dog can have a bad day, so some fear is good. But I'm always trying to show kids who have a lot of fear about dogs that gently petting a dog can be fun and relaxing.

    And you're right, your dad was a looker. Glad he got a few things right and passed them on to you. Happy memories!

  9. We all learn good and bad from our parents. Ours is to grow up and learn which is which, and appreciate what they tried to do. You and your dad both did a good job.

    I'm with Trish; don't teach them fear, teach them wisdom. It's okay for dad to take hold of the kid and say, "Let's ask this smart, lovely lady who grows the delicious tomatoes if it's okay to pet her dog."

    Your thoughts of your family always bring up thoughts of mine. I suppose your words work that way on all of us.

  10. If I had any thunder to add, Brenda, Trish and Petrea stole it. And Earl.

    Is the parent thing complicated for EVERYBODY, or just everybody I know? And at what age does your big point become the bottom line for many who are late in seeing it: "he got lots of the important things right." Sadly not true for all, but lots of us need to see that is. And maybe some others haven't yet removed the elders from their pillars. That always surprises me.

    Am I just out of it, or have you hit another hall of famer: a dog who looks "one whiskey shy of a coma."

  11. sorry Banjo...didn't mean to steal it.

    and, love the one whiskey shy of a coma...knew an 18 yo teacup poodle who resembled that for most of his life. tho I'd worry more about him with the kids than poor Albert!


  12. I enjoyed your comments, every one of them. Just put on a pot of coffee, care to join me? (What, you have to go? So soon?)

  13. Your dad was a looker, KB. And there's far more wisdom here than I can hope to offer. When I was walking this afternoon, a lady and man were walking their two dogs on leads, and I moved to the left so we could all be comfortable, only to have them give me a wide berth and wander right out into the street. The lady smiled apologetically even though their dogs did nothing but give me that "Oh, hello, you're nice" look. Now you have me wondering if I looked one whisky shy of a coma...

  14. Affectionate, and thoughtful that you would welcome your father "home" at this time.
    (Something that's interested me of late is the Obon Festival this Sunday.)
    I thought maybe you resembled your Mom, recalling that gorgeous photo of her some time back.

  15. You say your dad looked like Richard Widmark?
    Me, mine looked like Burl Ives.
    PA's, like George Clooney???
    Any other celeb look-alikes?

  16. (When I was a kid, he was also a dead ringer for Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner.)

    Burl Ives! Which one? The Burl who sang little ditties on children's albums, or Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?

  17. A chip off a wonderful old block.......never fear!

  18. My guess is that it was the 12th. You'd have remembered if it was the 13th.

    He does look like Richard Widmark. Is that his work photo?

    You were lucky, the happy childhood thing... but I suspect it's partly DNA. Those that leave are the ones in their clan with the most moxy

  19. I think my dad looked like a cross between Richard Burton and Clark Gable. I'm a little biased.

  20. We define the past in what we choose to remember.

  21. Big Daddy I'm afraid.

    Petrea, no wonder you hit the boards, it's in your blood.

    wv relint
    The mendacity is un-relintin'.

  22. I think Petrea's got it right. Teach caution, but encourage exploration. It drive me nuts how some children are so protected, they are never exposed dirt, germs, football, and other normal activities of growing up. I've got a distant relative whose kids were so protected from the environment that they are now allergic to nearly everything. Eating a little dirt when you're three isn't such a bad thing. I have nephews who are big studs, but not allowed to play football because they might get injured. BARF!

    My Dad, who passed 18 months ago last week, was the world's ugliest man. So, that's what I get to look forward to.

    WV: coptus - hmm, have to think about that one.

  23. DB, darlin', you take after your mom...

  24. Karin: After studying his photo for several hours, I do believe your father was a spy. (For the good guys, of course.)

  25. Yes, a good old block, Linda.

    PA, passport photo, which helps him look like a spy (Earl).

    DB & Chieftess, love you guys. DB is right; a little dirt, a few worms, and getting frenched by the dog never hurt any kid. (DB, when you grow up you'll look like the sheriff in High Noon.)

    Petrea, I'm impressed. Can't think of a better combo. And Paula, guess that means he never sang you to sleep with The Ugly Bug Ball.

  26. I have to join the chorus: your dad really was a looker. Nice tribute, beautifully said. My favorite lines:

    "My dad passed me many crosses, including a bad temper, impatience, and the ability to make a really vile pot of coffee. But whatever my fears, they did not come from him."

    Did he also pass you your writing chops?

  27. Patrick McGoohan. Absolutely. I couldn't have done the name without your help, but the face was calling out somebody I'd seen. Now I know who.

    "the anniversary"--the first? That can be very raw.

  28. Such a nice tribute to your Pop. Would be interesting to know the approximate age of this over protective father. Seriously, it appears in this era, children no longer have parents but have older childlike counterparts(adult children).

  29. Lovely tribute. You're right about fear, by the way. It's the worst of sins.

  30. I've seen this post before. Always intending to leave a comment, then I don't!
    Ditto de above commentators, every one of them.

    If you told me your Father was a well-known actor I'd believe you!

  31. I'll pass on the coffee but I do believe I could might have a little of that whisky.

    Nice tribute to that your dad KB. And now I see where your fabulous cheekbones came from. Thanks Dad!!!

  32. Things I'm skeeerd of :
    horses (sorry Vandy)
    deep water
    and a few more.....

  33. My Pops died in August, too. I miss his advice. He was good that way. Smart.

  34. You look like your dad.

    I admire your lack of fear.

  35. I'm glad you had that Dad - mine was like that, too. Encouraged courage, not fear. And with a great sense of humor. Lovely post. Keep 'em coming!

  36. I don't lack fear, Christina; wish I did. Zoomie, hi, and thank you.

    HP: Sport?

  37. Does it really hurt a kid to get licked or just a little chewed on?

    It's probably a good thing I don't plan on having kids. ;)

  38. Thanks to me, both of my girls are afraid of blacky eyed peas. Go figure.

    My WV is HYSILIS, I think they have drugs for that now don't they???