Monday, June 18, 2007

Did you know?

Childhood memories, for any of us, are often full of people and memories that are sometimes evoked through tiny little nothings, or what would seem nothings to anyone else….but are very much something to us because of what they represent.

For example:

Driving home this weekend from San Francisco, I was insistent on stopping at the nearest fresh fruit stand, something that will always and forever remind me of Grandma Amaro, who used to show up in Reno with crates and crates of peaches, tomatoes, and cantelope that nobody liked or wished to eat. Did she know that this would forever ingrain in her little granddaughter a love of fresh produce, bell peppers, and tomatoes that now frequently fill my dinner fajitas? Did she know that although my mother was understandably frustrated by her constant ability to show up unannounced from Sacramento ready for a few overnight stays, there were a handful of toe headed heathen children excited at the prospect of a new tub of licorice and extra attention?

My Papa Dan, a jolly, horse riding eccentric character of a grandpa from all of my memories, will always return to my heart when the apples on the farm trees come into season, or whenever I smell Albertson’s fried chicken. Did he know how much we loved his frequent visits to the farm with all of his Big Red chewing gum? Did he know how fun it was to visit Scott Roofing and run into his office where he would proceed to tickle us and give us Fuji kisses?

This Father’s Day I want to tell my Dad of the things I hope he’ll know about us, his children…or about me especially….that I don’t wish to someday be reminiscing on when he is gone. I’d rather tell you now, Dad…all the things I hope you know:

Did you know that I was always convinced I was the prettiest girl during my elementary school years…and my middle school years….okay, okay AND my high school years because you always told me so? Looking back on giant, hair spray matted bangs and crooked teeth, later followed by monstrous braces should have led any girl to settle with the reality that a cocker spaniel had more appeal, and yet I was blindingly unaware because the most important man in my life was convinced it didn’t get better than me. When arriving home with the latest class picture, you would scan over everyone and say, “Very nice, you’re the prettiest though.”

Did you know that I love Nevada? I love the “sage and the pine” of the song I used to sing as a child. I love the lizards and the horny toads, when examined from a distance. I love arrowheads. I love Indian paintbrush. I love the peaceful quiet that settles after hiking far away from home and sitting on a rock overlooking the valley where our little farm is. I love it because you always loved it. I love it because you taught me to love it by always pointing out all the various and ever so interesting botany of the ironically barren deserts. We may have rolled our eyes when you constantly pointed out this and that shrub, but we couldn’t escape the respect that was slowing creeping in and taking over for our Nevada.

Did you know that anytime a political discussion arises in a class or personal discussion, I always wonder what my Dad would think, and am anxious to get your opinion? Did you know that 9 out of 10 times after speaking to you I would then return to this class or personal discussion and repeat verbatim what you had told me and claim it as my own wisdom?

Did you know that hamburger and rice/or potatoes with brown gravy will always make me think of you? And homemade French fries and greasy breakfasts- courtesy of Dad (especially when mom had just had a baby).

Did you know we all love your high pitched laugh, kind of girly sounding and excessively contagious- coming from such a rugged trapper?

Did you know I will always remember the fine, soft feeling of your hair (before you shaved what was left completely off) when Sarah and I would get a cup of water and comb and tell you to lay down because we were going to “do your hair”, something you always acquiesced to as we would tie pony tails and stick your hair straight up while giggling like the 9 and 5 year olds we were? I can see you now lying surrounded by these squealing little girls, with potatoe chips (without the napkin) sitting in a pile on your chest, intently reading a fascinating book on the original roads of Nevada in the year 1867.

Did you know that my image of you growing up will always be of Cabela's lace up brown leather boots, a Slakey Brother's hat, and dirty jeans as you would arrive home in the big white plumbing van. The van that used to drive us to school as the pipes would cling to the point of deafness as we rode with the man who spent so much time dirtying those jeans and installing those pipes to provide us with education and bikes and barbie dolls and cupcakes....cupcakes for my kindergarten birthday party that were tragically thrown toward the windshield and ruined when he braked too hard at a stop sign.

Did you know that your approval was always the thing that seemed to matter the most to me? From all outward appearances, it may seem that I scoff at your beaver hat wearing, bob cat urine/bait trapping lifestyle, your secluded love of curling up with a book and sunflower seeds, your complete disregard for social status or money and even at times social grace, but secretly I often think you are right and if anything: an admirable example of being true blue- through and through. You always reminded me that having Larissa was much better than driving a new car, the government is not responsible for ruling our lives, I better speak respectfully to my mother, and you never cheat in business- even if you can get away with it and make it seem like you're not cheating.

Did you know that your praise, although sometimes few and far between because you aren’t the “mushy” type, has meant more to me and stuck with me more than anyone else’s? Even the praise that has traveled and arrived at our ears through Mom’s sly delivery…when she says, “Did you know the other day your Dad said this about you…?” Your kids may smile and toss their head, but the self esteem barometer shoots about two miles upwards and your words deposit into their Who- I -Am book forever.

Did you know that you actually ARE the “mushy” type? In fact, with older eyes, I now see more frequently the instances of your pure mushdom as you play with my Lily, get upset over your children leaving the house, write Jacob letters, and frequently invite us to come by the house for dinner or to hang out. Or as you phrase it, “Why don’t you come by the house and steal all of our food like you always do?” or "Hey, Mallory and Larissa are home, you and Lily should stop by..." I know you really mean, “I like it when you are here.” You don’t have me fooled. I also know this whole post will probably embarrass you with all its sticky sentiment, and that you probably won't mention it until Mom insists, "Ira Hansen! You better say something to your daughter!" But that's okay, I know you like me. I know you love me. You are both complex and so easy to read sometimes...and although you've never been the fully expressive "I love you I love you I love you" Dad, your actions have always spoken blaringly louder than your words.

Did you know I love you? And not just the forever I am bonded to you through blood and therefore must love you kind of love. It's the self chosen kind after years and years of observation and interaction. I love you Dad, and I really hope you know that above all.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You must have an amazing Father! I have big shoes to fill, I hope I can give my children everything that your father has given you. I just LOVE your blog and LOVE you!

You are really becoming a blogging fanatic aren't you.