About My Dad

old_man-2Friday was the first anniversary of my father’s death. As my long-time readers know, my dad used to be the star of this blog. So as a tribute, I’ve gathered some of his most memorable moments.

The main thing anyone should know about my dad is that he loved money to the exclusion of everything else. This incident happened last year when we went to New York to take care of his affairs.

Our lawyer got the court to allow us access to his safe deposit box while we were still in town. We talked to the bank manager. She was very nice and led us into her office, which was right across from the safe deposit boxes. We handed her the key and she unlocked the box and put it on her desk. She asked us to sign that we opened it, and handed us two stapled signature cards. My dad had signed at least 50 times. Why would someone go to their safe deposit box that much? In our box’s three-year history, I’d opened it twice.

“How often did he open it?” I asked.

The manager laughed. “He came here about three times a week. He’d open his box and go sit in the room with it. It’s right there, next to my office. I’d knock after a while – I do that with all old people. We want to make sure they’re okay. Plus he usually came about 4:45 when we were getting ready to close and we wanted to go home. He’d answer me and sit there a while longer.  We can’t kick them out. When he was done, he’d come out and hand me the box to lock up.”

Complementary to the love of money, my father was incredibly cheap. This incident happened when I went to take care of him after his first hospitalization.

Dad insisted on calling the garage-door people to fix his automatic door. I had to hand it to him, he looked them up in the phone book, dialed and set up an appointment for the next day. It was sad, too, because I doubted my dad would ever drive again.

The garage-door people came and put in a new motor. The technician asked me for a check, so I made one out for $275 and brought it to my dad to sign.

He peered at the check. “No,” he said. “The ad said $265. Tell them I won’t sign it.”

I brought the check back to the technician and told him what Dad said. He called his supervisor, who told me, “The ad has said $275 for at least two years. You can show him. It’s in the Clipper.”

I relayed the message to Dad. He grumbled. “It’s supposed to be $265,” but he did sign it.

 My dad was ultra-conservative and he loved to argue politics, but his arguments never made sense. This conversation happened shortly after Super Storm Sandy ravaged the East Coast:

You know what I saw? People waiting on line for gas. Just like in the seventies. They were all lined up at the Seven-Eleven, just like back then.” I’m glad he “discovered” the lines, kind of puts him in touch with reality, or so I thought. “I guess they’re not getting deliveries.”

“It’s not that they’re not getting deliveries, Dad. It’s that most gas stations don’t have power so they can’t pump.”

“No, we had power in less than three days. Gas isn’t coming into the refineries. We can’t drill; we can’t have a pipeline; we can’t frack. That’s why we don’t have gas.”

“We have oil for twenty years, and they said that ten years ago,” I said, speaking as a former energy writer and lobbyist.

“We have plenty of oil. They keep saying that, but we have plenty of oil. It’s all these restrictions that keep us from having gas. You can’t drill offshore; you can’t drill on shore. Gimme a substitute. We have no substitute,” he said. I could have mentioned ethanol, electric cars, natural gas, propane or fuel cells, but I refrained.

“I saw the gas lines. They weren’t moving. They were sitting in the cars. Some for three hours, some for six hours. It’s a terrible thing what they’re doing to people.”

“Nobody’s doing anything to anyone, Dad. There was a hurricane.”

“That wasn’t so bad. If we could build a pipeline, we’d have gas.”

Another political conversation happened during one of my dad’s visits:

Mrs. Obama’s got her nose in everything. In other words, she’s trying to say ‘Take the junk food out of the schools.’ She’s trying to take it out of everything. She’s trying to say that planting a garden and eating it is good. But she’s not planting it. Someone else is planting it. She’s not in office. She shouldn’t have anything to do with that stuff,” Dad ranted.

“Well, didn’t Barbara Bush do stuff? Didn’t Laura Bush do stuff?” I said.

“Yeah, they did, but not like this,” he said

“So what’s bad about having a garden? “ I asked.

“Nothing. I don’t think there’s anything bad about it.”

“So you agree with Mrs. Obama?”

“About that I do,” he said.

“So she wants kids to eat healthy. What’s wrong with that?” I baited.

“I believe in eating healthy. I just don’t take it too far. I don’t eat salt because I don’t like salt. Sooner or later, you say you don’t like these things and you don’t eat them,” he said.

“So you agree with her about that too,” I said.

His pitch increased, “She’s just into everything and she shouldn’t be in everything. She wasn’t elected to office, he was.”

My dad hated teachers. He thought they were overpaid and he wouldn’t hesitate to tell you.

“These teachers, they all make a hundred thousand a year,” my dad said to my husband.

“No they don’t,” my hub said, “I wanted to be a teacher when I got out of college. In Northern Virginia, they make forty thousand a year.”

“That’s still a lot. They never work. They get off at three; they have all these holidays and summers off,” my dad said.

My husband continued. “If I worked for forty thousand in Northern Virginia, where I lived, I could never have afforded a house. Houses average four hundred to seven hundred fifty thousand there.”

“Teachers don’t make forty thousand. They make a hundred thousand. I see it in the Pennysaver all the time,” my dad said. Once a year, or whenever there’s a school budget to vote down, someone budget detractor posts the salaries of the highest-paid teachers in town. I doubt there is even one teacher that makes a hundred thousand, but these lists, as you might imagine, consist of teachers who’ve worked there twenty years, and probably include administrators too.

“I’ll show you how much they make,” my husband said, as he pulled up Salary.com and typed in “teacher.” Salary.com had the average teacher making forty thousand.

“Well, I guess they don’t make that much,” my dad said. “But they still get all of their health insurance from their husbands, and the husbands can pay for everything. They’ve got nothing to worry about.”

The next morning, my dad told me that my husband had shown him that teachers don’t make a hundred thousand. “I don’t believe that,” he said. But my father chooses to believe the internet when it says that illegal aliens living in welfare hotels are receiving government checks and using their food stamps to buy lottery tickets.

 My dad was a huge racist. When I hired a live-in aide for him, they sent a black man. This incident was my father’s piece de resistance:

Hello, Maria, it’s Michael (my dad’s aide). Your father, he pulled a gun on me. The police came and now we’re at the hospital.”

“WHAT? Are you okay?”

“Yeah I took the gun away and held him down and called 911, then the police came and the ambulance took us to the hospital.”

“What happened?”

“He was upstairs and I was downstairs and I heard him bumping around and he crawled into the closet and got his gun and said, ‘I’m gonna kill you!’”

My dad had bought that gun during the 60s riots because he thought he might have to shoot someone in his neighborhood. At the time, his town was mostly farmland, and it is at least an hour from New York City. Rest assured, no one was going to march on Mahopac. But from the beginning, my father wanted to point that gun at a black man, and he got his wish. (Disclaimer: My dad was the bigot. Please understand that I am not.)

The other thing you should know  (or may already know) about my dad is that he created his own reality.

My dad had a car accident a few weeks ago, and it’s all he’s talked about since. Every phone call, he tells me the story again. And every time he does, the story changes. Remember playing telephone – where everyone sits in a circle and each whispers a message to the next kid, and at the end, the message is totally different? Well, that’s what this game of telephone’s been like, but my dad’s the only one playing.

The original story was this: He came home; pulled up to the mailbox; got the mail; backed up to the foot of the driveway, hit the gas and shot backward into the neighbor’s yard across the street, blowing a tire and taking out a tree.

This is what he told me this week: “So I got the mail, and backed up. I need a running start to get around the bushes and up the driveway.” (It’s a CAR. It has an ENGINE. A running start?) “Then the car went haywire. I didn’t know what was happening, and when I realized it, I stepped on the brake. I wound up in the girls’ yard, right on top of a wall in their driveway. Good thing I didn’t go off the wall.”

“You told me about that, Dad.”

“Yeah, my front tire was flat. That’s what caused it.

There’s so much more I could tell you about my dad, and if you want to know, just search under “My Dad” to your left.  I loved when he was the star of my blog because I never had to work to be funny. At all. Plus if I was in need of a blog topic, I could always call him. Now he’s gone and everything has changed. I miss his crazy rants. Everything for my family is different now because of him. He left us money and we were able to move back to the East Coast. Because of the move, my husband has a new job that’s less stressful and we’re so much happier than we were in Seattle. I am really grateful for everything he’s done for us and I’ll always remember his crazy character.  Sail on, Dad. I miss you! 

 

Friday was the first anniversary of my father’s death. As my long-time readers know, my dad used to be the star of this blog. So as a tribute, I’ve gathered some of his most memorable moments.

The main thing anyone should know about my dad is that he loved money to the exclusion of everything else. This incident happened last year when we went to New York to take care of his affairs.

Our lawyer got the court to allow us access to his safe deposit box while we were still in town. We talked to the bank manager. She was very nice and led us into her office, which was right across from the safe deposit boxes. We handed her the key and she unlocked the box and put it on her desk. She asked us to sign that we opened it, and handed us two stapled signature cards. My dad had signed at least 50 times. Why would someone go to their safe deposit box that much? In our box’s three-year history, I’d opened it twice.

“How often did he open it?” I asked.

The manager laughed. “He came here about three times a week. He’d open his box and go sit in the room with it. It’s right there, next to my office. I’d knock after a while – I do that with all old people. We want to make sure they’re okay. Plus he usually came about 4:45 when we were getting ready to close and we wanted to go home. He’d answer me and sit there a while longer.  We can’t kick them out. When he was done, he’d come out and hand me the box to lock up.”

Complimentary to the love of money, my father was incredibly cheap. This incident happened when I went to take care of him after his first hospitalization.

Dad insisted on calling the garage-door people to fix his automatic door. I had to hand it to him, he looked them up in the phone book, dialed and set up an appointment for the next day. It was sad, too, because I doubted my dad would ever drive again.

The garage-door people came and put in a new motor. The technician asked me for a check, so I made one out for $275 and brought it to my dad to sign.

He peered at the check. “No,” he said. “The ad said $265. Tell them I won’t sign it.”

I brought the check back to the technician and told him what Dad said. He called his supervisor, who told me, “The ad has said $275 for at least two years. You can show him. It’s in the Clipper.”

I relayed the message to Dad. He grumbled. “It’s supposed to be $265,” but he did sign it.

 

My dad was ultra-conservative and he loved to argue politics, but his arguments never made sense. This conversation happened shortly after Super Storm Sandy ravaged the East Coast:

You know what I saw? People waiting on line for gas. Just like in the seventies. They were all lined up at the Seven-Eleven, just like back then.” I’m glad he “discovered” the lines, kind of puts him in touch with reality, or so I thought. “I guess they’re not getting deliveries.”

“It’s not that they’re not getting deliveries, Dad. It’s that most gas stations don’t have power so they can’t pump.”

“No, we had power in less than three days. Gas isn’t coming into the refineries. We can’t drill; we can’t have a pipeline; we can’t frack. That’s why we don’t have gas.”

“We had oil for twenty years, and they said that ten years ago,” I said, speaking as a former energy writer and lobbyist.

“We have plenty of oil. They keep saying that, but we have plenty of oil. It’s all these restrictions that keep us from having gas. You can’t drill offshore; you can’t drill on shore. Gimme a substitute. We have no substitute,” he said. I could have mentioned ethanol, electric cars, natural gas, propane or fuel cells, but I refrained.

“I saw the gas lines. They weren’t moving. They were sitting in the cars. Some for three hours, some for six hours. It’s a terrible thing what they’re doing to people.”

“Nobody’s doing anything to anyone, Dad. There was a hurricane.”

“That wasn’t so bad. If we could build a pipeline, we’d have gas.”

 

This conversation happened during one of my dad’s visits:

Mrs. Obama’s got her nose in everything. In other words, she’s trying to say ‘Take the junk food out of the schools.’ She’s trying to take it out of everything. She’s trying to say that planting a garden and eating it is good. But she’s not planting it. Someone else is planting it. She’s not in office. She shouldn’t have anything to do with that stuff,” Dad ranted.

“Well, didn’t Barbara Bush do stuff? Didn’t Laura Bush do stuff?” I said.

“Yeah, they did, but not like this,” he said

“So what’s bad about having a garden? “ I asked.

“Nothing. I don’t think there’s anything bad about it.”

“So you agree with Mrs. Obama?”

“About that I do,” he said.

“So she wants kids to eat healthy. What’s wrong with that?” I baited.

“I believe in eating healthy. I just don’t take it too far. I don’t eat salt because I don’t like salt. Sooner or later, you say you don’t like these things and you don’t eat them,” he said.

“So you agree with her about that too,” I said.

His pitch increased, “She’s just into everything and she shouldn’t be in everything. She wasn’t elected to office, he was.”

My dad hated teachers. He thought they were overpaid and he wouldn’t hesitate to tell you.

My dad and my husband got into a conversation about one of my dad’s favorite subjects: overpaid teachers. “These teachers, they all make a hundred thousand a year,” my dad said to my husband.

“No they don’t,” my hub said, “I wanted to be a teacher when I got out of college. In Northern Virginia, they make forty thousand a year.”

“That’s still a lot. They never work. They get off at three; they have all these holidays and summers off,” my dad said.

My husband continued. “If I worked for forty thousand in Northern Virginia, where I lived, I could never have afforded a house. Houses average four hundred to seven hundred fifty thousand there.”

“Teachers don’t make forty thousand. They make a hundred thousand. I see it in the Pennysaver all the time,” my dad said. Once a year, or whenever there’s a school budget to vote down, someone budget detractor posts the salaries of the highest-paid teachers in town. I doubt there is even one teacher that makes a hundred thousand, but these lists, as you might imagine, consist of teachers who’ve worked there twenty years, and probably include administrators too.

“I’ll show you how much they make,” my husband said, as he pulled up Salary.com and typed in “teacher.” Salary.com had the average teacher making forty thousand.

“Well, I guess they don’t make that much,” my dad said. “But they still get all of their health insurance from their husbands, and the husbands can pay for everything. They’ve got nothing to worry about.”

The next morning, my dad told me that my husband had shown him that teachers don’t make a hundred thousand. “I don’t believe that,” he said. But my father chooses to believe the internet when it says that illegal aliens living in welfare hotels are receiving government checks and using their food stamps to buy lottery tickets.

 

My dad was a huge racist. When I hired a live-in aide for him, they sent a black man. This incident was my father’s piece de resistance:

Hello, Maria, it’s Michael (my dad’s aide). Your father, he pulled a gun on me. The police came and now we’re at the hospital.”

“WHAT? Are you okay?”

“Yeah I took the gun away and held him down and called 911, then the police came and the ambulance took us to the hospital.”

“What happened?”

“He was upstairs and I was downstairs and I heard him bumping around and he crawled into the closet and got his gun and said, ‘I’m gonna kill you!’”

My dad had bought that gun during the 60s riots because he thought he might have to shoot someone in his neighborhood. At the time, his town was mostly farmland, and it is at least an hour from New York City. Rest assured, no one was going to march on Mahopac. But from the beginning, my father wanted to point that gun at a black man, and he got his wish.

 

The other thing you should know about my dad is that he created his own reality.

My dad had a car accident a few weeks ago, and it’s all he’s talked about since. Every phone call, he tells me the story again. And every time he does, the story changes. Remember playing telephone – where everyone sits in a circle and each whispers a message to the next kid, and at the end, the message is totally different? Well, that’s what this game of telephone’s been like, but my dad’s the only one playing.

The original story was this: He came home; pulled up to the mailbox; got the mail; backed up to the foot of the driveway, hit the gas and shot backward into the neighbor’s yard across the street, blowing a tire and taking out a tree.

This is what he told me this week: “So I got the mail, and backed up. I need a running start to get around the bushes and up the driveway.” (It’s a CAR. It has an ENGINE. A running start?) “Then the car went haywire. I didn’t know what was happening, and when I realized it, I stepped on the brake. I wound up in the girls’ yard, right on top of a wall in their driveway. Good thing I didn’t go off the wall.”

“You told me about that, Dad.”

“Yeah, my front tire was flat. That’s what caused it.

There’s so much more I could tell you about my dad, and if you want to know, just search under “My Dad” to your left.  I loved when he was the star of my blog because I never had to work to be funny. At all. Plus if I was in need of a blog topic, I could always call him. Now he’s gone and everything has changed. I miss his crazy rants. Everything for us is different now because of him. He left us money and we were able to move back to the East Coast. Because of the move, my husband has a new job that’s less stressful and we’re so much happier here. I am really grateful for everything he’s done for us and I’ll always remember his crazy character.