Jim Ellis Editor, Legacy Magazine
They are captured, like butterflies in nets, only to be released again to the sky. Captured like fish on the line, before being mercifully thrown back again into the sea. Memories of a father throughout my past.
Images pop into mind. And for a good reason, I bet. Each one holding a meaning or a lesson or just a portion of the outrageous experience we call life.
- A Picnic, circa 1969. A five-year-old me runs around the park once we get to the site. Immediately I must know what is on top of this black metal table, only to find out it’s not a table. It’s a barbecue, recently used. My hands are burned, and I run back to the blanket and the family. That burn pretty much brought to a close the shortest picnic in recorded history. (My older sister is still bugged about it I think.) The memory that lingers is of a father who walked me over to the BBQ and asked, “What did you want to know?” I said, “I wanted to see what was up there.” To this, my father raised me up to see what was up on top of this “bench.” I saw the empty black grill and didn’t think much of it, definitely not worth the burn. But a father lifting me up to solve the mystery for me? Priceless.
- Car Wash, circa 1973. While washing my dad’s car to make some firework money, my mischievous friend Jamie decided it would be funny to put the hose into gas tank. Yeah, great idea. I didn’t know that some water in the gas tank would harm the thing. I was nine, what do I know about gas tanks? What do I know about car washing? Well, I got a good lesson, when my dad begrudgingly threw two dollars my way, bringing home a couple concepts: you get stung when you screw up, and it’s important to keep your word on compensation even if the agreed-upon job is not to standard.
- Tennis Courts, circa 1979. My dad joined us out on the tennis courts at Marina High School on a weekend. It was fun to have him there playing, since most of the time I would either be without him while he was at work, or he’d be stressing out thinking about work while at home. It was so depressing not having a dad around paying attention to me or spending time with me. But on that weekend on the courts, oh yeah … I can still see him running for the ball in his “hard” work shoes.
- Gardening, circa 1980. He also gardened in his “hard” work shoes. I don’t think he owned any other types of shoes. No socks though for the gardening. No, that would be too conventional. My dad is nothing if not unconventional. And where that was bothersome growing up, it’s totally cool now. Somehow.
- Mystical Call, circa 1981. As a senior I knew a foreign exchange girl named Bete. My dad and I were speaking about her late at night, actually trying to psychically reach her just with the power of our minds. Even though she had never called me over the previous five months (in the days before cell phones), and it would have been unbelievable for her to call this late, the phone rang and I answered. It was Bete saying, “you must stop thinking of me, I can not get to sleep.” My dad loves psychic stuff. And when it’s real, it’s freaking real.
- The Playing Field, circa 1974. Our grammar school flag football team was losing big time. But that didn’t stop me from doing my best. I got the punt at the 20-yard line. I darted to my left and then found a seam to the right. I sprinted with the ball up the right side of the field, passing the other team without problem. I made my way all the way to the endzone and scored for our team. From a distance, a figure was walking this way, towards the field. It was my dad, hard work shoes and all, finding his way to the field on which I played. And the field on which I scored.
As Father’s Day approaches, I take the opportunity to recall these memories, these moments in time. Capturing them just for a moment, put them on the MDI “Wall of Fathers,” to be a guest with all these other luminaries bringing honor to the mighty job of fatherhood. And then letting the memories go, into the infinite space where the mystery, the love and the respect reside.
Happy Father’s Day everyone.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To submit your story, photo or video to the “Wall of Fathers,” click HERE.