Chuck Brooks: Time to meet my pop!
A month ago, Mom got this space for Mother’s Day. It seems only right Dad gets it this week.
Once again, my disclaimer is I speak only for myself here. I have four brothers and one sister who could give you their perspective, but this is about my relationship with Dad. Makes sense. So, without further adieu, I’d like you to meet my pop!
My relationship with Dad was different than the one I had with Mom. I suspect that is not unusual for many males. Since Mom and Dad were two distinctively different people, it also makes sense our relationships would be different.
When I describe Dad to people, I begin with, “He was the hardest working man I knew.” I think my siblings would agree that we saw more of Mom in the course of a day than we did Dad. Dad would get up at 5 or so in the morning, and he’d be on his way to work by 6.
There’d be days he’d drive and days when he’d walk. I don’t know why he walked, unless the car was in the shop or something, because we had two cars but Mom often walked to work, too. Living in a smaller town, walking to work was not unusual.
Dad worked at a place called Metalfab. a metal fabrication factory. He was primarily a welder and tank tester. Our father was as handy a man as any person I’ve ever known. The reason we’d see Mom more than Dad in the course of a day is, once home from work, he’d spend a lot of time in the garage working on projects or he’d be outside working on our property.
He once built a brick fireplace outside, so we could grill. It was quite the creation. I had no appreciation for his abilities when I was younger, but I have come to recognize that Dad was a skilled man. Far more than his sons!
There were times I’d stop at Metalfab to see Dad just for fun. I always knew where to find him unless he was on break. Sometimes I went down there for money and other times I was
sent there for a reason that superseded my needs. But I always got a kick out of stopping in and seeing him in his work environment. I remember feeling bad for him on hot summer days because there was no relief for those guys in the factory. Sweat would be dripping from his forehead, but he never complained.
Dad was not a touchy-feely guy at all. He grew up on a farm, as did Mom. Dad’s father was an alcoholic. His mother, however, was as sweet a little old lady as you’d ever want to know.
As I grew into adulthood, I’d hear horrifying stories from my older siblings regarding Dad’s days as a boy in his home. I don’t ever remember Dad hugging me. I guess I’d have to say I didn’t hug him either, but I figured it would be met with, “You OK?”
The only time I recall Dad showing his soft side was the day we went to the funeral home early to see our mother’s body in the casket so we could deal with our emotions before the doors opened to the public. As I approached the casket, I lost all emotional control and wept fiercely. Dad walked me over to a couch, sat me down and put his arm around me, trying to console me as best he could. I was 28 years old. I’ll never forget that.
As a youngster, I could have been missing from the house for two weeks, and Dad wouldn’t have noticed. If I had been five minutes late for curfew, Mom would be waiting to pounce when I walked in the door. That’s how they parented.
Fun on the menu
Dad was a hard man. Mom was more genteel. Dad, however, loved his fun. He had four sisters and two brothers, one of whom died long before our family began. He and his siblings were a tough bunch, too. Most lived well into their 70s and were fierce smokers. Dad’s final preference was his pipe.
When that side of the family gathered, fun was first on the menu, as opposed to mom’s side of the family which was much more low-key.
Dad’s side enjoyed their beverages. At weddings and other family events, there was no shortage of laughter and hijinks.
And Dad loved to dance. He was maybe 5 feet 9 inches and thin as a rail. He was smooth on the dance floor. Watching Dad have fun was simply an enjoyable time for all in attendance. Some of my favorite times with him were when I’d impersonate Foster Brooks per Dad’s wishes; then Dad would repeat my impersonation. Dear God, it was funny.
We said goodbye to Dad in July of 2000. He was 77. We never questioned his love for us. He just showed it differently, and I think my five siblings would agree. His spirit and zest for life is alive and well in all his kids. At times, perhaps, too much. Yikes!
Happy Father’s Day memories to you all!