What triggers old memories? Iím not sure what the answer to that question is but recently I had the shock of my life. And at my age, I donít have too many shocks left.
The shock came one day last week when I was in the bathroom shaving. Not quite awake at the time, I happened to glance in the mirror and was startled to see my father staring back at me. What he was doing in my mirror still baffles me, and why he chose to reflect himself at this particular time I will never know.
Blinking my eyes, I recovered from my shock, looked again and sure enough, what I had feared all my life happened. Right before my eyes I had become my father, which just goes to show how unfair life is.
I mean, you spend your whole childhood trying not to be your father and when least expected Ö there he is in your bathroom mirror.
I no sooner adjusted to becoming my father when I distinctly heard my motherís voice. ďWait till your father gets home.Ē My first reaction was to shudder in panic, which reawakened memories I had long forgotten, and for good reason.
Reflecting on my distant childhood, one thing I distinctly remember about my father were his biblical convictions. For example, he was a firm believer in ďspare the rod, spoil the child.Ē He was so committed to not spoiling his children that he had a spare rod in his closet for emergencies. As I remember it now, those emergencies were rather frequent.
For our benefit, dad hung a paddle by the front door inscribed with these words from his favorite hymn, ďI need thee every hour.Ē To this day, I donít know if it was the Lord we needed or the paddle. You can be sure we needed one or the other every hour on the hour, and dad made sure we got the proper one at the proper time.
By the time I was 10 years old I didnít know what would wear out first; dadís paddle or itís oft target. I was at a disadvantage though. Dad had several paddles while I only had one posterior.
Dad prefaced each paddling with, ďSon, this is going to hurt me more than it does you.Ē Iíve often wondered where. I thought him a little too enthusiastic in this area and several times I was tempted to say to dear old dad, ďPlease, donít hurt yourself so much.Ē
I can still hear momís warning: ďWait till your father gets home,Ē meaning of course we were in for some punishment from dear ole dad. My siblings and I would much rather have a switching from our father, which only lasted a moment, than listen to our motherís threats, which seemed to last all day long.
I can imagine dad dreading to come home knowing the task awaiting him upon arrival. At times Iím sure he didnít know why he was dishing out the promised punishment. His orders came from a higher source ó mom. While dad wielded the paddle, mom handled our father.
Sometimes he confused his orders and spanked the wrong child. I guess the law of averages evened the score for us. If I was honest, and who is to say Iím not, I probably needed more paddling than I ever got.
Once, in some confusion, he spanked a visiting neighbor who in turn went home and told her husband. It made for an exciting evening for us children. All we needed was popcorn. It is gratifying to see your parent in more trouble than you.
Dad as I fondly remember, tried to help out around the house. Although not a ďMr. Mom,Ē he did the best he could. Once I remember mom came home and caught dad washing the dishes in the bathtub, with Mr. Bubble. Thankfully, it wasnít with Mrs. Bubble.
Another time, mom was away for several days giving dad opportunity to run the house. He thought about surprising mom by cleaning the house Ö doing the laundry Ö making the beds. But, he didnít. After all, itís the thought that counts and dad was counting on that. So was mom.
Around our house dad was infamous with his culinary capers. For years I thought everyone made macaroni and cheese in the frying pan. In fact, if dad could get it in the frying pan it was on the supper menu that evening.
He invented the, ďdonít ask, donít tell,Ē policy when it came to table fare.
Then there was the time dad got mom her first microwave oven. The next evening dad made exploding hot dogs in the micro. How could something so little explode into so many pieces?
The amazing thing about dadís cooking was, no matter what he cooked it all tasted like chicken ó except his chicken.
Upon reflection, maybe itís not such a bad thing to become your father. Possibly itís the way things must be. If I could be half the man my father was I would be twice the father I am right now.
The Bible, as always, puts this in the right perspective. ďAnd, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.Ē (Ephesians 6:4, KJV.)
The best memory of my father is introducing me to Our Father Which Art in Heaven.