I don’t think Portia knows she’s a big dog. She tries to cram herself into Rocky’s doggy bed (having destroyed her own). Paws, tail and head all hang off the side, but to look at her, that’s her bed now. And she’s afraid of cats. Cries and whines when she sees one (although this may have to do with the fact that our neighbors gave their cat a poodle haircut – you know, with the fluffy tail and feet, but shaved everywhere else). And we have a tough time sharing a queen sized bed. She tries to curl herself into the back of my knees, but you can see, paws are hanging off the side. She also tries to make friends with all the little dogs at puppy daycare, but as soon as she comes in, they all lie down and roll over on their backs to show submissiveness because she’s big! But she just looks at them like, “What are you doing? I’m a little dog like you!” She also tries to crawl under the fence to see the neighbors, but gets stuck. and she seems really surprised that she got stuck.
Maybe Portia knows what we all wish we could learn – It’s not your size on the outside, it’s how you see yourself mentally and in her mind, she’s a little dog.
I was thinking really hard all week on how to end the Week of Dad. What was the best story I knew? What was the best advice I ever got from him? Everyone has had their favourite Dad-ism (I’ll try to list most of them!) but as for advice, I think that the most important things I learned from him, I didn’t learn from him telling me, but I learned by example:
Family is important, and when family needs something, you do it/get it/say it. No whining, no complaining, no bartering. You shut up and deliver, because they are your family.
Treat your closest friends like they are family.
Have fun with your family and friends.
What someone does for a living or how much they make does not factor into whether or not they are a good person.
If you only raise your voice once in a while, people will stop and listen when you do.
Make sure you save some money in the bank for rainy days
Play when you can (especially with kids! – Dad played with us alot, and he played with my nephews too)
Be nice to people
You can frame, drywall and paint yourself, but always get a professional to plaster and tape (okay, so that one is not sappy and sentimental, but it’s true! Taping well is a hard job!)
Work hard and take pride in your work.
I’m sure there’s more that I don’t even realize I learned, but those are the things that stick out the most.
For my friends and family, if you have a dad-ism you don’t see here, put it in the comments!
When you tell me things like this, it’s like a bullet in my head [Said to Jenge when she was 16 after she told him she had a crush on the courtesy clerk at Safeway, who was very cute, but really dumb]
Listen . . . [said in a deep serious tone, and with a finger point, and then followed by the World according to Dad]
How you fixin’? [for money – it was his way of asking if we needed any]
Merry Christmas, Brandi [Said to the dog as he dropped large hunks of meat on a piece of tinfoil that he carefully folded up as a plate and set on the ground]
Something between here [my dashboard] and here [my engine] is no connected. [Which is how he explained to me why my check engine light was always on]
I know what he is thinking, he is thinking ‘That Goddamn Greek is still there.’ [part of his toast at my sister’s wedding]
Split-bannanas, Berry-Knots Farm, Torture 86
We go for schvimming [Dad learned english from german and sometimes you still heard a little bit of the german]
Nice to know you still alive! [said when we finally called home after not calling for a few days]
Slow, eh, slow [repeated MANY times whenever one of the kids was using the video camera]
Look at all the cars you hit!! [said when we drove over the yellow lines in the parking lot while he was teaching us to drive]
It has been 365 days since I last saw my dad in person. There have been moments over the past year where I think every member of my family has thought that they were finally feeling better and moving on, and just as many moments where they found themselves back at the same place they were at the moment he died. The most bittersweet aspect of the greiving process has been the stories of my dad. Generally very funny and touching, they are at the same time a great comfort – reminding us who he was – and a crushing reminder of what we lost.
Dad was a builder and over the years, built us many things. Our house, our bikes, a table for parties downstairs, a plastic rocking horse (whose springs used to pinch our chubby legs when we got too big), a tree stand for our Christmas tree (although that was after many years of jerry rigging it with string and nails), shelves for all our rooms, walls for new rooms when we got older and needed our own space, a desk for my mum, a bathroom in the basement, a dog area for my dogs (although he postured that he didn’t like them), a deck for my house, a deck for Ann, and his greenhouse (oh, lord, the greenhouse. What an eyesore!) I liked to watch him work. He was a man of few words, and if you wanted to learn, you learned by watching. You could ask him questions, but I found it worked best when I found a quiet place to sit out of the way and just watched. Watched him snap a chalk line, or put up drywall, or re-wire a socket. It never in a million years occured to me that not everyone’s dad could do those things. Those were Dad things – done with Dad tools. And I was surprised when I found out that not everyone’s Dad had been able to build a bathroom without any plans. Over this past year, we’ve slowly been learning how much we depended on him, for even the simplest task – hang a picture, hang a gate, fix a shelf – all things that we saw him do a million times.
Dad-ism of the day: My mum once said it would be nice when they got older to move into a bungalow. Then they wouldn’t have to go up and down so many stairs. My dad looked at her and asked a very familar dad question: “Who are you? The Queen of England?”
At the end of the lecture, you were sufficiently chastised, realizing that your education was super important and you were ungrateful for not using the opportunity. I can’t remember what he used to say for the rest of the lecture, but my sisters and I ALWAYS remembered the opening line.