Part 1 of a two-part column. And, when Part 2 comes out, it will become apparent why there was a Part 1. — Don
After Dad died in July of 1996, the family went through his personal belongings. While rummaging through my dad’s stuff, I found a copy of a column I had written a few years prior. Dad had it folded and placed behind his driver’s license. I reckon he liked to always carry it around. Here’s sorta what that column said, lo, those many years ago.
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For any of you who are the children of a father (and, that should include most of us – I hope) let me say this for you: Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
My sisters and I were lucky enough to have a good one. I’d rank him (and the girls concur) “the best.” I can only hope to do as good a job as ol’ Pop Rush when it comes my turn.
In some respects he was the stereotypical American father. He did all those things that dads do. He gave Mom a kiss in the morning before he went to work, he played sports, watched sports and somehow found time to interact with us kids. I know it couldn’t have been easy.
In our branch of the Rush clan. Mom was the stay-cool, calm and collected one. She’s the one who molded us into good, caring human beings. Dad made sure we stayed that way, but he also gave us the undeniable Irish character we possess.
I remember Mrs. Johnson, my sixth-grade teacher at North Sashabaw Elementary (Clarkston) saying to me one day before recess, “Don, I know when something’s up with you — there’s that twinkle in your eyes.”
Three out of the four Rushlings got blue eyes from Mom, but we all got the twinkle from Dad.
I think Dad was also special in other ways, too. He was the enforcer, the teacher and always the philosopher. As the enforcer I guess he was more of a cream puff. He wasn’t a hitter or a spanker. He was something much more efficient — a talker. I can remember only two spankings in my entire life and I deserved both. Dad never degraded us kids or made us feel small. He showed us respect.
He laid it on the line with a quick fist to the kitchen table (that thunderous boom always got our attention) and then a long story of life, love and respect
“Do you know how to spell respect?” he’d ask.
Dad always managed to slip spelling quizzes into his lectures. During these times he was always philosophical. I think us kids came away better people because of them, even though at the time it was a major drag. Especially for me because I was the only boy and it seemed I needed the most guidance.
To this day the girls laugh when we tell stories about Dad’s lectures – they would high-tail it out, crying, to their room, leaving me with Dad, cornered with nowhere to run. I was stuck at the kitchen table with the best/worst lecturer this side of the Rio Grande. During one of these marathon lectures I can distinctly remember saying to myself, “For the love of God, Dad. Please just spank me and let’s get this over!”
During those dreaded teen years I can remember sassing back to him (just once), “You never teach me anything.” How wrong could one long-haired teenager have been?
He taught me how to swing a bat with the old rope through the hardball trick. He’d swing it around, and I’d try to hit it. He taught me to catch and throw; how to explode off the line when the football was hiked.
He gave us all singing lessons. “Okay, kids, after me, Do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti . . .” These lessons may or may not have been after coming home from the “club.”
We learned the words to Danny Boy and The Night That Paddy Murphy Died. We turned out to be like him, quick to smile and to tell a joke. We learned that life is a wonderful, precious gift that needs to be lived.
We learned to face our fears, how to reason, when to fight and when not to. We’re passionate, as well as compassionate. May God hold you and bless you. We, the girls and I love you.
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By next week, I hope to have the exciting conclusion to this two-part Don’t Rush Me ready for reading!
Now, to the mailbox:
(Don), I just finished reading your column headlined, “The Unforgiven” about those darn cheap, squishy ice cream cones … Thank you! In a world where we are so divided and find it necessary to clamor and complain about almost everything, this was such a delightful departure from the seemingly endless cacophony of crying.
And by the way, I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of those cones, and always opt for the bowl for myself and my sons. Thank you for keeping it light and have a wonderful weekend! Chuck J.
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Thanks, Chuck! Anybody else have something to say? Send your thoughts to DontRushDon@gmail.com.