When I was growing up, unlike a lot of kids my age, I almost never had to worry about having too many questions.
Anytime I had things to ask about, things for which a kid needed immediate answers, immediate fleshing out with full descriptions including the latin classifications, words longer and more inscrutable than the ones you got in church, mostly questions about things like birds, bugs and other sciencey stuff, . .
I always knew the guy to go to.
Mostly I remember following him around the house, one hand tugging on the hem of his shirt. . . the other clenched around a smashed set of wings, the iridescent powder coating the insides of my fingertips. ..”Hey Dad, what kinda butterfly is this?”
(A dead one, Kiddo)
If he didn’t know the answer, he never seemed to mind looking it up for us. ..and then launching into a couple bazillion brief words about the meaning of life as seen through the biology teacher’s microscope.
Sometimes he would sing to us too, in this exaggerated baritone voice. ..mostly weird old folksongs. . .the one about the old lady who swallowed a lot of insects. . .the one about a boy’s best friend being his mother (his ma) and this one. . . never mind we all grew up in towns surrounded by corn and not cotton:
I also remember the way he adored and still adores my Mom, and spent those post-honeymoon days chasing her around the house, trying to coax a smile out with his favorite Hank Williams tune (I doubt he even remembers, but I do) :
Dad has always been a lotta guys to me. ..to Mom and to the rest of my siblings. . .
Always the right words of embarrassment in front of friends
and the awkwardness of our names being called in a hillbilly holler for dinner heard from two blocks away. ..
Bug identifier, storm cloud watcher, furnace fixer, Christmas lightstrings untangler, long-winded philosopher and explainer of all things great and small. ..but mostly he was just a pretty good person to have around the house when we needed him.
Thanks for teaching how to love the right stuff, Dad.