After Pop died, 21st December 1985, I had to take care of the last 'loose ends' stuff. Not that the job involved all that much as Pop knew he was dying, and had spent the better part of the two years leading to his death in tying up as many of his own loose ends as he could.
I found a birthday card I made for him, and I tucked it away in a trunk for later. The trunk is in a south Alabama storage unit, or I would haul it out and look at that card today.
Had he lived, my dad would be celebrating his 85th birthday. I lit a candle for him and left the sort of message I would have left if his tomb sat closer than Cypress, California.
On every birthday since he died, I have spent part of the day remembering my dad. The first few years the grief was too strong, and the memories hurt terribly because I knew Pop wanted to live for Fox's sake-Dad took one look at Crusty, and later offered privately to show me how to kill him without getting caught.
Oh, that Pop. Kinda cool, though, the way real dads just know about somethings like worthless rat bastard bums who marry their little girl, and how to handle it:) Of course, he didn't really mean it about killing Crusty, I think it was more his way of letting me know the depth of his disdain for Crusty.
Any road, after a few years, the memories brought fewer pangs, and more laughter at what a character my dad was. Fox would spend literally hours asking me to tell the one about...Over the years I got to where I would spend the days just before Pop's birthday or the aniversary of his passing trying to recall something new for Fox.
One memory I never have to search for is of the holidays we spent out on Lake Havesu just before developers brought over the London Bridge-wow, was that weird, to think of the London Bridge plunked down in the middle of the California desert!
Pop used to call the prep for the trip a "Hairy Safairi" (pronounce it the way it is spelled here, and you'll get a quick glimpse into my dad's sense of humour) because his second wife, my truly wicked step-mother whom we secretly called Alice Capone, functioned a bit better in panic mode.
Her real name is Dorothy, and of course, because she was so mean, we called her Dirty Dort-to her face, and Pop rarely chastised us for it, because by the time we were old enough to label her, he'd been through enough with her to give credit for discernment where it was due. It was a great many years before he found out I had come up with the Alice Capone one, and then all he said was, "Smart kid. Ever thought about law enforcement as a career?"
Gads, she was really awful, and I hated getting ready to go camping with her in charge of the preps! She made EVERYONE so miserable! By the time we got in the car (a '59 Ford station wagon complete with huge fins, and an equally huge way-back) no-one wanted to go anywhere, much less on a three day camping trip with that witch in charge.
But by the time we hit the outskirts of Bakersfield we were singing in the car, and looking forward to stopping at Sambo's coffee shop where we would gorge on the best dollar pancakes ever made. Pop made a point of keeping Dorothy from using spit to clean the syrup off our faces, and took a bit of pleasure thwarting her efforts to make us so grossed out that we threw back breakfast onto her lap-it was a family conspiracy we came to love.
(Poor Dort, no-one liked her. Although she gave us all good reason, I at least on rare ocassion felt a little sorry for her-until the next wicked evil thing she liked to do to hurt us...)
We would hit the river early in the first day and set up camp. We swam, we ate, we ran the boat-oh jeez, Pop LOVED to run the boat at full throttle through the Petrified Forest.
My half sister nearly drowned one trip. I was the first one to notice she was in trouble, and I flung myself into the cold Colorado River water to pull her out of the current that was somehow trying to push her under instead of along. Of course she was in a full tilt panic, and damn near drown me, too but somehow I got her out of the current.
Something loomed in the dark water over me as I was losing my grip on my strength and my sister-for a moment I thought "SHARK!" then my brother Harry and Pop swam/waded us back to the bank.
When we got home he signed us up for swim lessons. We had a pool at home wherein I had already taught myself how to swim, but Pop decided a little more formal instruction was in order.
Oh man I miss my dad!