Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Clark Kent lived at my House

Art by Jim Lee and Scott Williams
With all the talk of superheros lately, and of Mary Sues  and of memories of those we love, I thought I'd do a mash up of all of them and throw in a great big Thanks Dad! in the process.

A half century ago, Superman was the ultimate hero. Strong, handsome (look at that chin!), impervious to wrong-doing. Maybe his perfection was his kryptonite, because these days he just seems a little...Mary Sue compared to the the tortured Batman, or playboy Ironman.

But I'm here to tell you, there's nothing better than having Superman for a dad. Or at least Clark Kent.

Just a short month ago, most of us here extolled the virtues of our moms as Mother's Day neared. So, I was completely red faced when Trisha wished everyone a happy Father's Day, and I realized I'd let an opportunity to brag on my dad slip by.

So here goes: 

My dad really is Superman. And Mother Theresa. And Einstein thrown in for good measure. And nobody'd probably ever guess it to look at him.

Born to very humble circumstances in the heart of the Depression, this son of a farmer and a fiery redhead was reading Winnie the Pooh by age three. At age five my grandmother insisted on reading Tom Sawyer to him before bedtime, but he begged her every night to just give him the book because he could finish it faster himself (my poor grandmother - deprived of the joy of reading to her kid before he even hit kindergarten!). At eight he was in charge of his brothers and sisters after dinner and through the night while his parents worked second jobs and night shifts. At seventeen he left the farm and went to the university in the big (and I do mean big) city without knowing a soul (my own son is seventeen - I can't even imagine it!).

Those are the things I heard about my dad.

These are the things I know:

The hum of his electric razor woke me up before five every morning. I'd climb onto the bathroom counter and swing my feet and watch him shave his 'wickers' as he got ready to take the bus out to the super secret research facility where he worked.
At dinnertime I would run to the bus stop and wait for the 'stinky bus' (the EPA would have died if they'd seen the fumes coming out of that thing) to pull in so I could walk my dad home, hand in hand and have him ask me what I'd been up to all day.

When I was ten, I became so sick I could hardly breathe. He placed his hands on my head and prayed for me. And then he slept (or didn't sleep) on the floor by my bed all night listening to each ragged inhale. I woke in the morning before five to the sound of his razor as he prepared for a full day of work.

He sent me some journal entries recently. This is how they read:
Flew in from a conference in France. Drove the girls to a volleyball tournament.
Got back from Austria late. Drove to Dad's farm and helped him lay irrigation pipe (The Latino workhands would laugh and laugh because my dad always wore this huge sombrero to cover his very sensitive skin).
Just back from Pennsylvania, had time to visit a friend at the hospital.

If you ask him what he wants, my dad says he has everything - and means it. As far as I know, he's never failed to do his best, or to help someone in need, or to think of the other guy first. I could never write a character like my dad in a book. He'd have the label of Gary Stu plastered on him so fast my head would spin. But he really is my dad. And he really is that awesome. And I really do love him.

Thanks Dad!


  1. Your dad sounds amazing, and I'm so glad you shared that with us. Now I wish I'd done a blog post about my dad too. I wouldn't call him a Gary Stu but he's a good guy nonetheless. Maybe next year.

    This is the seventh time I have tried to leave this comment. For some reason, every time I do, my computer freezes up. I'm tricking it this time by writing my comment somewhere else and pasting it in. Wish me luck on writing an actual blog post...:(

  2. Susan, that was beautiful. What an awesome father you had. I don't think he sounds like a Gary Stu, just a man that had some hard times, but still found ways to take care of his family. A real hero. :)

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. What good people we have on Prosers. I love this. What a sweet tribute.


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