A Soft Spot for Deb Linda’s Dad

If you’ll pardon me, I’m going to plagiarize myself again. When I think about my Dad, there’s one memory that never fails to make me smile, and since I already wrote about it a few years ago on my own blog, I have no choice (you hear me? no choice!) but to rerun it here.

It was a post from last year’s Deb Tawna Fenske on her blog that inspired the following:

*cue the flashback music*

My dad died when I was twelve years old, and a lot has faded in the intervening [*cough* more than ten *cough*] years since then. The pain has long since been buffered by time, and when a memory bubbles up it more often than not contains only a nostalgic joy that he still exists in my head and heart.

I’m older now than he was when he died, which is kind of hard to wrap my mind around sometimes, but as I’m mostly still stuck at twelve in my memories when I think about him, it doesn’t really bother me too much.

I get my love of words and writing from my dad. He was the seventh of eight children (no, not Catholic; just prolific), born into what some might call a poor family, but really it was just normal life in Missouri at the time. After high school he would’ve loved to have gone to college, but couldn’t afford not to work. So he enlisted in the Army, and after his time was up, switched to the Air Force, which apparently suited him better.

While stationed in Sweden, he met my mom and swept her off her feet. He always claimed she was blinded enough by his brilliant wit to ignore his looks. (She always claimed it was because he had access to Hershey bars through the embassy. So I guess we know where I get my love of chocolate.)

Whatever the reason, they married and eventually produced four children–my three brothers and me. My youngest brother was a bit of an afterthought (that sounds better than “accident,” right?), and a source of great pride to my dad.

Yessirree, he still had it in him! Even after the brain tumor that nearly killed him the year after I was born, and the subsequent heart disease that was aggravated by the medicine he had to take daily after his surgery.

Dad was superb at relating to all of his sons. He played chess with my oldest brother, the genius. He tossed the ball around with my middle brother, the athlete. And he played a mean game of patty-cake with my baby brother, never failing to to make him laugh and give my mother a break at the same time.

With me, he seemed less certain of himself, but he gamely constructed dollhouses out of cardboard boxes, and listened to me talk endlessly about my favorite subject: horses. I was tall and gawky, with knobby knees and bony elbows, but he called me his long-stemmed American beauty and made me feel pretty anyway.

But enough of that. Here’s the part where I stop crying and tell you why Tawna’s post reminded me so sharply of my dad:

My baby brother was freshly home from the hospital, and finally asleep in his bassinet. Mom (after tackling five loads of laundry that had accumulated while she was giving birth–hey, I never claimed Dad was perfect) was resting with a well-deserved glass of iced tea and a magazine, doing a bang-up job of pretending to ignore the mess around her.

I was in the kitchen, doing my nine-year-old best to make myself lunch (no, I didn’t like food prep any better then than I do now) when Dad came in, got the bottle of ketchup out of the fridge, poured some over his thumb, and walked back out. Curious, I followed.

When he got the living room he held his thumb up and said to my mother, “Hey, honey, you know that soft spot on top of the baby’s head…”

My mother, used to Dad’s sense of humor by then, only paled for a second or two before she threw her magazine at him.

(Yes, it’s possible I got my sense of humor from Dad, too.)


*emerge slowly from flashback as the music builds back up*


I only wish Dad had lived to see his little girl achieve her dream of publication. (Though, honestly, a small part of me is glad he didn’t get a chance to read the naughty bits, because that would have been embarrassing.)


What’s the meanest practical joke you’ve ever pulled on someone? Or, conversely, that you’ve pulled on someone else?


Have you ever written anything you’d blush to have your parents read?

18 Replies to “A Soft Spot for Deb Linda’s Dad”

  1. Linda, that made my morning, what a wonderful tribute to your dad, I feel very fortunate that you shared him with all of us.

    This has been such a special week. I’ve loved getting to know our Deb dads πŸ™‚

    1. It has been a special week, hasn’t it? Nice to take a trip down the proverbial Memory Lane now and then. πŸ™‚

  2. your dad rocks, linda.

    practical jokes? i helped my mom short-sheet my brother’s bed once and by help, i mean i watched. (hey, i was only 7.) one april fools day, my mom switched the salt and sugar on my dad and he yelped so loud, i’ve never wanted to try a practical joke again.

  3. Linda, what a beautiful way to immortalize your dad. What a great guy and I’m sorry that he was taken from you so early in your life. My dad was my best friend and he too was taken too soon, although I was in my 40s when I lost him in a tragic traffic accident.

    Speaking of practical jokes, I don’t believe in them but my dad played a key role in the worst practical joke ever played on me.
    My hubby and I went w/my dad and mom to a New Year’s Eve party waaaaay back oh 30 years ago or so, where this “woman” wouldn’t leave my hubby alone, which everyone except me thought was funny and even laughed about it on the way home. Then next morning I got a call from a female saying she was this “woman” and threw the phone at my hubby’s head (sleeping off party still). Come to find out my dad talked my sister into pretending to be this “woman” on the phone. Needless to say I wasn’t happy and as they all laughed about it I didn’t speak to them for days afterward. I still don’t think it’s funny

    That’s my story

  4. Your dad sounds hilarious. What a great memory. We don’t have any practical jokers in the family, no gift for it, I guess. We’re more the corny joke types. But I have written stuff I’d have blushed to let my dad read. I’d never have heard the end of it; he had enough of a fit when I got my ear pierced in the cartilage. I let my mom read it, though, to yank off proverbial the band-aid. She just shook her head and sighed a lot. πŸ™‚

  5. Oh dear, making Joanne cry at work is not a good thing, but what a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. It’s those little moments that are really special.

    And I bet you your dad and my real Big Bubby Dora (my great grandmother) are hanging out, watching us and they know and are proud.

  6. I don’t even want to answer your question because I don’t want to take away from that beautiful story about your dad. I’d like to know more about him (and you as a kid/teenager). I’m not ashamed to admit I cried a little. A lot. We’ve got to stop keeping onions in our desk at work! <3

    1. Awww. Didn’t want to make you cry. So, yeah, let’s just blame the onions. πŸ˜‰

      As for me as kid/teenager…well, I had my nose in a book a lot.

  7. I’d just as soon my mom didn’t read anything I write (dad is dead).
    I once made cinnamon toast using chilli powder and garlic salt instead of cinnamon and sugar for my ex-husband. (No that’s not why he is my ex – it was April Fools Day). He smoked so much that he didn’t notice the difference. True story.

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