Sunday, July 3, 2011

SUNDAY RERUN: Dad Tells Me a Story


This is an entry from my diary, May 12, 2003. It includes a story Dad told me, one which I'd forgotten:

There are times I'm intensely aware that any journal is a series of choices--what to record, in how much detail, what to omit. You may even have to choose whose stories to tell. I'm deciding tonight, here in the time-share vacation condo I'm sharing with my parents, Mom's sister Charlotte, and Dad's brother's widow Jewel. Already a week has passed since the fund-raising dinner/theatre entertainment for the new production of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Mother's Day was yesterday, Bruce's hearing with his supervisor's superior was this morning, and I have spent a rare five hours alone with my dad as we drove from Portland, (actually he joined me in Hood River) to Leavenworth, followed by dinner here, a round of crafting stick-pins, and swapping reminisces until Mom and the aunties were too tired to stay up any longer. Dad went to bed shortly after dinner. The trip had worn him out.

Now here I am, sitting propped against the wall, sideways at the head of the Murphy bed. I'm trapped in pajamas, as the living room is my bedroom, and perspiration beads my forehead. Aunt Charlotte was worried some Peeping Tom could see through the vertical blinds. What would she think if I opened a window? I am ready to go out and sleep in the van. Anything to cool off. I am going to open a window.

I surprised myself by being ready to leave when Mom and Dad arrived this morning. The car was packed, I'd had time to eat, RC had checked the tires and transmission.

Mom rode with me as far as Aunt Charlotte's, in Hood River. We had a brief visit there with cousin Cindy, and a light lunch, and then loaded Charlotte's gear into Mom and Dad's little red Taurus and drove over to pick up Aunt Jewel. Dad was my passenger now. Said he didn't want to get stuck in a car with three gabbling women. He'd told me in Portland he'd switch with Mom. Sometimes I've felt as though Dad and I didn't have a lot in common. I think it's a male/female thing. Duane told me once he always fretted about what to get Mom for Christmas and birthdays, but Dad was easy. It's just the other way around, for me--with Mom, I have to take a l-o-o-o-n-g list of possibilities and pare it down; with Dad I walk around wondering what one earth he might like to get! But there's one thing Dad and I have always shared: Our love of music.

We sang together for long miles, reminding each other of songs we hadn't thought of in years, resurrecting lyrics in a patchwork fusion of mental filing systems. 

And Dad told me stories. 

He told me of the time he'd been out logging with his brother, (my Uncle Walt) and a couple of buddies. They'd set out from camp one morning, Dad and one of the guys. Uncle Walt was still in camp, and the fourth man was already out in the woods. Dad had a double-headed clearing axe over his shoulder, which they used the way I suppose one would use a machete, to clear brush around the trees they wanted to cut, or to clear a path through the forest. It was honed every morning until it had an edge you could have shaved with.

Well, it was cold and frosty, and Dad stepped up onto an icy log lying in the path, lost his balance, and tried to keep his feet by bringing the handle of the axe down, slicing his neck quite neatly at the base of the skull.

His buddy managed to get him back to camp, where Uncle Walt hustled them into their old car. Dad's friend had a thick, folded cloth over the gash, trying to staunch the bleeding, but it wasn't working. At the sound of the car's engine, the fourth man came out of the woods wanting to know why they were going back. Uncle Walt jerked a thumb at the back seat, where Dad and his friend were. 

That fourth man took one look at the two of them and said, "Stop the car!" to Uncle Walt, yanked the back door open and said, "Get out!" to the friend, who did, and scrambled into the front seat. Then the latecomer climbed in with Dad and pushed his thumb into the pressure point on the side of Dad's neck, stopping the flow of blood. Without his knowledge and action, Dad would have bled to death.

Now, back to 2011, with the latest photos from the yard:







1 comments:

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