In Memory of My Dad #20

written on March 25, 1995

Recently I traveled to west and south Texas on “holiday” as my Scottish friend Jody Taylor calls it.  Actually it was more of a couple of days off work and more of a “spring break”. 

I took highway 33 out of Sapulpa, Oklahoma intending to take the “blue highways” that William Least Heat Moon describes in his novel which was called by that same name.  The first thing I noticed was that the small highways today are colored in black, at least they are on my road Atlas.  On the older maps the two lane roads were always colored blue, so my trip started off on a horse of a different color but I swore not to let the little stuff bother me.

I used up all of highway 33 that I could before changing my route to travel south to Binger, Oklahoma, childhood home of former major leaguer Johnny Bench.  I stopped at a three calendar cafe for some chicken fried steak and cream gravy—no low cal diets for this ol’ fat boy during this jaunt.  I usually rate cafes by the number of calendars they have hanging on their walls—the most I’ve ever seen gracing a cafe wall was five, but I’m sure there’s a seven calendar cafe out there that serves biscuits that will melt in your mouth.

Anyway, after I left Binger, I took highway 152 which I recognized from my old traveling pipeline days and I knew this would take me fairly close to Pampa, Texas where I would pick up my two daughters Joley and Angel.

Angel is a sophomore at Clarendon City College located there in Pampa and she decided to go on Spring Break with me.  Joley, who is two years older and has the responsibility of taking care of her Golden Retriever “Mo” and hubby John, told one to take care of the other and she loaded up to embark on the trip with us.

I realized something while traveling with my daughters down the open highways of Texas.  Even though we are tied together by the blood coursing through our veins, the similarities stop right there when it comes to environments and preferences.

I am a product of the Illinois River and the Baronfork Creek, of cane breaks and oak groves.  I’m a product of marshes and mud, of muskrats and perch.  I’m happiest scrunching my toes in the sunbaked sand of the riverbed and listening to the chatter of the red-winged blackbirds.

Jo and Angel are products of sidewalks and buildings, of potted fig trees and the manicured grass of city parks.  The only time they enjoy being outside is when they are standing outside of the video store about to rent a movie while six lanes of traffic noisily pass on the streets.  They are most at home in a thermostatically controlled air-conditioned house where the outside lights come on automatically.

“So what of it,” say both Joley and Angel, “plenty of people have grown up without the companionship of raccoons and otters.  And a lot of great people never heard of a red-winged blackbird.”

I suspect the reason that we want our children to share the experiences of our childhoods is because of the memories that constitute many of the important lessons that we learned early.  I learned patience waiting on a fish to bite, respect from watching a wall of rain move in on our house at Briggs, Oklahoma, humility from listening to the thunder so strong, it shook the panes of glass from the window sills.

Maybe I’m just nostalgic for my own childhood, or maybe it’s just wanting to be included in the generation that my daughters belong to now.  Still, I have the uneasy feeling that the further we move from the everyday workings of the earth, the less we know of the values that have carried us through centuries of living.  Perhaps Kahil Gibran was right when he said, “your children do not dwell in the same house you live in….you can only visit them in your dreams.”

 

grannie and dad

R.L. Briggs
1943-2011

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8 thoughts on “In Memory of My Dad #20

  1. Was this the year he took us camping and to the zoo? I think it must have been. He brought us a tent and he slept in the hatchback of your little mustang…:) We went hiking up to Robber’s Cove with the sign that read “If you have any sort of heart or respiratory condition, turn back now.” Dad, huffing & puffing. You in those slick heeled sandals slipping and sliding all the way down. Me, grabbing every rock, branch or leaf of grass so I wouldn’t fall and break my neck. It’s a wonder we all three made it down alive! Looking back, I love that trip!

    Thanks Dad for a weekend I’ll never forget!

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  2. Angel, every Saturday when I come with anticipation to your posts, I find myself feeling somewhat “envious” of having a father that could conjure up such feeling and emotions with the mere stroke of a pen! My father was the most amazing, wonderful father anyone could possibly ask for, and showed his love for my Mom and me in his everyday actions, but he was certainly a man of “few words”! (maybe that was because my mom and I talked “all the time” and he couldn’t get a word in edgewise!!) I am blessed with many fond memories of my life with my parents, as well. Mine are just “quienter” (ha,ha) I just can’t imagine what a dinner table conversation or a car ride across Texas would be like with someone with such an vocabulary and “way with words” like your Dad! Life musta’ been a real ‘trip’ … especially after reading Jolea comments. She’s pretty terrific with that “word painting” thing as well as you.. You can certainly tell it is in your genes! I so love Saturdays … please assure me that you have lots of “Memories of my Dad” left :} P.S. The Kahil Gibran saying is one of my favorites and resides on my fridge as a daily reminder! (One more thing, your grannie is a lovely “vision in pink” and was an absolute treasure I’m sure. She has that same twinkle in her eyes as Bob!) Until next time … Donna H

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    1. Hey Donna, a couple of things…..first, my grannie in that picture is still living! isn’t she a vision? And yes, a treasure. She’s a hoot! That is my dad’s mom and she is 93 years old. I had two grannies, but she is not the one I write about usually. I talk about my other grannie, Grannie S., more because we lived in the same town, and the same house for a while. She lived to be 98. Also, it is so funny you mention car rides with my dad and all his words because in actuality, my dad was a man of very few words!!!! He rarely talked, he didn’t share his opinion much, and on car rides he made up a game called “Ten Trucks” that we played probably to keep me focused on the semi trucks instead of talking the whole ride! I think that is one reason I love his stories so much, because it is a peek into his mind and his thoughts since he rarely shared them. Isn’t that a coincidence that the quote is on your fridge? Well, I hope he got it right then! Thanks Donna!!

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  3. I thank Jesus for the values that were instiiled in us as children and that carry us through to this day! Think of the kids who had no values or morals, was not taught right from wrong, or the Love of a Heavenly Father who is always with us in every thing we do and every step we take! How blessed we are to have had loving parents, who were our teachers, and guided us toward an all good, rewarding, and happy life!

    I, too, can see your dad in every journey he took……… and the love he had for his children!

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  4. This is fantastic, Angel. I love the fact that you have a story – written by your day – where you and your sister are in the ‘plot’. It’s like a letter specifically for you.

    Your Dad was a wise man. I liked the message he was sharing. ~ Lenore

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