Friday, December 28, 2012

Memory Book-updated

On Christmas, I began writing about how the idea of making a 'memory book' for my dad came to be.  What resulted was a sifting through of, mostly, unhappy memories about how folk don't, or can't, or won't acknowledge loss.  Now that I've that out of my system, I can get on with the 'good bits' that unexpectedly came my way after dad died.

As mentioned in the Xmas post, the phone call I had made to the recycling center in January 2003 brought me unexpected comfort.  The recycling information man, before retiring, had worked in the beverage industry as had dad.  This man had worked for management, while my dad worked on behalf of employees.  The man told me how much he had respected my dad and that dad always did what was right for the workers.  Once dad dug his heels in on an issue, well, he couldn't easily be budged.  Apparently, dad's tough-headed attitude did not win him many admirers from management, but it did garner him respect.  He'd said to me on the phone, 'not many people liked your dad (in management), but I did,' and talked a bit more about dad and what it had been like to work with him some twenty years before.  I had never heard much about dad's work.  Dad certainly didn't share his work life with his kids, or, at least, not that I remember.  It seemed that that bit of him was part of 'grown-up stuff' that we kids weren't necessarily privy to knowing.  The story that this man shared of my dad was an absolute gift.  I wanted more of these 'gifts' from others who had known my dad.  I wanted a greater picture of who dad had been to the people in his life both personally and professionally.

Inspired by the chat with the recycling man and the note he'd nicely tucked into the recycling literature sent to my house, I set about collecting memories from others.  My dad's widow generously gave me a list of dad's personal and professional contacts.  I made a list of family members on my mom's side who'd spent time with dad back in the 60s and 70s.  I sent out emails, made phone calls, and sent post to everyone of them.  Most people whom I contacted responded.  Those that didn't, well, what can I say?  I tried to sweeten the deal by letting folk know they weren't going to have to 'give' without 'getting'.  Everyone who contributed a memory was sent a copy of the 'book'.  I think I had about 23 copies made.

I had given myself one year to complete this task and was finished on October 17, 2003, just shy of the one-year mark of dad's death.

I'm still very grateful to all of the people who participated.  

Here's the 'book' in some of its glory:

Memory in print
Dad and his brothers in the Excelsior Dist., San Francisco


The hubs read this post, and felt that it was incomplete.  He suggested that I include a memory from the collection.

Here are two, short memories:

It was some years ago at the annual family picnic.  I had sampled some of Doug's delicious chili.  Wanting to know how to duplicate such a good pot of beans, I asked for the recipe.  Doug found the empty can of beans that he had used to make the chili, peeled off the label and handed it to me.  I got a kick out of that.

I remember one time going down to your dad's house for a visit.  This was when Tara, the Siamese cat, was still alive.  I reached out to pet her and she hissed at me.  Your dad turned to her and said without missing a beat, 'Crab-ass!'  That was so funny.

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