by cheri block
My father was a people person.
And he could be very funny when he wasn’t tense. He was an active man. And, at the end of his life, quite brave, considering the circumstances.
I will remember him today for his (now) famous irreverent comment made in the presence of my daughter’s high school boyfriend, the son of a pastor of a conservative Christian church in town.
The deed was done around a large round oak table, situated under an enveloping Tiffany-type hanging lamp of stained glass. Its colored orbs of red pears and yellow bananas may have contributed to my father’s mood that night.
Or maybe his mood was silly because of the drinks served out on the deck under the enormous cedar and pine trees that surrounded our cabin like guards. Lake Tahoe August nights, after a day of puttering around the cabin, often produced for him a relaxation without the customary censor. Away from the pressures of the dental office and bank statements, my father relaxed among his grown children and grandchildren. And how marvelous that Sara had invited her boyfriend to join the family this weekend.
When the coolness of the evening and the mosquitoes’ fine whines ended our outdoor cocktail hour, mother and I served the dinner of grilled chicken, corn, salad, and bread. And a side of spinach.
After the meal (and a bit more wine), oak chairs were pushed back a bit from the table to make room for dessert and conversation. Our teenage son Ben asked to be excused but was denied. My mother stopped fidgeting for a second and actually stayed in her seat. My husband wondered out loud what was for dessert. I sipped what was left of my wine after swirling it around in the glass a couple of times.
Dad wanted to know if his granddaughter and pastor’s son watched Beverly Hills 90210.
The conversation needed an upgrade. I knew how to provide one. After all, I am a teacher and have a question to ask should a lull in the discussion occur.
“If you could be any electrical appliance, what would it be and why?”
Oh my, such a question. Everyone around the table, especially my father, loved this opportunity for creativity. The circuits switched on; the current flowed.
My mother said, ” I would be a blender because I like to put different flavors together and see what comes out.”
OK, I thought.
My husband would be a Skil-saw, my sister would be a curling iron, and so on.
And so on.
My father took a last bite of spinach before my mother removed his plate. He took a swig of wine and washed them together like mouthwash. This mastication went unnoticed by Sara and her religious boyfriend.
Well, Dad, what electric appliance would you be?
“I would be a vibrator, ” he said.
Dad, on this Father’s Day, I will miss you around my table. No one has stepped in to replace you.